Vector 44: The legacy of webOS

Palm Pre lying next to other smartphones
Palm Pre lying next to other smartphones (Image credit: Android Central)

Vector is a news and analysis show focusing on the biggest stories, hottest trends, and most important issues in technology, past, present, and future. On this week's show, five years after the launch of the original Palm Pre, Derek Kessler of Mobile Nations talks to Rene about webOS, its rise, its fall, and how its interface and feature set still influence everything from Android to BlackBerry to iOS. (Spoiler alert: The former lead designer of webOS, Matias Duarte, has been the lead designer of Android since before Ice Cream Sandwich!)

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Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie has been covering the personal technology industry for almost a decade. Editorial Director at Mobile Nations, analyst at iMore, video and podcast host, you can follow him @reneritchie on [Snapchat](, [Instagram](, or [Twitter](
  • I thought I was having a stroke when I saw that blast from my past scrolling down the Android Central mainpage.
  • Now I'm sad. I miss you, Pre.
  • I still have my pre plus. I just haven't turned it on in forever. Posted via Android Central App
  • Me too. And I still haven't bought another HP product. As a C# .Net developer (Windows for those who don't know) my company offered me an HP or a Mac laptop. I've never used a Mac, or an iAnything but I took the MacBook because I didn't want an HP ever again. I've never been so mad and disappointed in a company before in my life. I still am waiting for Synergy to fully make it to Android. Hangouts at least incorporates GTalk and SMS. Now if they'd pull all the other chats and FaceBook Messenger it might approach the functionality we had five years ago in WebOs.
  • Don't forget app backup, something that has only just recently been added for the play store. I'm actually considering picking up a pre 2
  • I still have my Pre 3,but haven't turned it on in ages. Posted via my HTC One S using the Android Central App
  • Me too. : (. I was looking at some pics online of the software the other day, I just got plain sad. Posted via Android Central App
  • Sold my last webOS device on swappa last I kinda miss it too....until I see how outdated the performance got to be. Palm was really ahead with the gestures and cards on the phones. Nice to see the influence nowadays.
  • It is dead ... let it go...
  • I've let it go long ago the only thing that was cool was the multitasking that's it Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 or Samsung galaxy S5
  • Which is now alive and well in Blackberry 10 (not exactly the same implementation but the Playbook was really close) if you miss it that much. Posted via Android Central App on my daily driver, the Droid MAX
  • Ya but I like apps like everyone else so I'll stick with android XD Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 or Samsung galaxy S5
  • It's not dead... It's pining!!
  • Was using my Pre to play muzak in my patient waiting room...turning that phone on took FOREVER! Posted via Android Central App
  • Still have my original Pre from Sprint.. Man I loved that phone !
  • That was my favorite phone! Sucks it never got the recognition it deserved! Great concept and layout, Android should incorporated to their OS. Posted via Android Central App
  • Did anybody else Frankenpre? I Plussed it then Two'd it. Finally made the jump to android with the GS3. Only sort of sad.
  • Yup! At the end, I turned my Pre minus into a Pre plus. Posted via Android Central App
  • I did! It was cool!
  • I followed the same path, Pre- > Pre+ > Pre2... then GS3 with a Touchstone coil in it.... I'm due for an upgrade July 1st. I'm thinking LG G3 and hoping I can retrofit a coil in it to make it work with the 5-6 Touchstones I have.
  • Good luck friend. I fear the curve of the G3 back will render the touchstone incompatible, at least when it comes to the magnets holding it in place Posted via Android Central App
  • I truly miss thie pre just charged it up the other day.. to get some info off of it. It was a sad demise...I really do miss bad HP never ran with it... another reason I will probably necer by a HP Item of anykind if I can help it...
  • WebOS was a good IDEA, AND THAT'S IT PERIOD It was executed horrifically on sub par hardware, that makes a cheap chinese headset today look like a M8 or G3. I remember the pre as a phone which could basically not even make calls.... I could not wait to get rid of that stupid thing. It made my moto Razr flip phone look blazingly fast
  • Damn, I miss webOS so much. But swiping up to get to Google Now and closing apps kind of feels like webOS... If I pretend hard enough. The best OS ever! It was so ahead of its time. That hardware was not ready for the software. If they were around today, webOS would be awesome and would definitely be able to keep up. It was so underpowered back then. Posted via Android Central App
  • I am still freaking bitter at HP for how they handled this OS. I still feel that the OS was one of the best around and I still feel it complete with iOS and Android.
  • +1k Posted via Android Central App
  • Also +1.
  • +1(k) Posted via Android Central App
  • webOS was the best. Badly implemented on poor hardware. My Pre 3 got near and there was lots that could happen but I still missing swipe away cards, easy task swapping and other good things that I would love to see on Android. I like Android but I loved webOS.
  • Put wavelauncher on your android. It is just an applauncher, not a full replacement. Gives you the WebOS wave bar plus dynamic recent apps, so you can swipe to change apps. There are some full launchers that are gesture enabled. A lot of them are left-swipes which conflict with my Note2's multiwindow panel so I can't comment on them. Posted via Android Central App
  • I have moved on to Android, but WebOS has been my favorite mobile OS by far. The use of gestures has yet to be matched by any other OS. I keep hoping that more WebOS DNA will find its way into future versions of Android.
  • Palm fanboys are almost as annoying and delusional as blackberry fanboys. almost.
  • Troll much? you must be one of those iPhone or Nexus sheeple.
  • The man you just called a sheeple was using Palm OS devices back in the 2nd Clinton administration (maybe longer). He stuck with Palm through thick and thin, much like I did. Any criticisms we level at Palm/3COM/PalmOne/HP are well-founded and based on years of experience and close following of the industry long before Android, iOS or, yes, Blackberry, were blips on the radar. Heck, Palm OS was powering early smartphones back when BB devices were still 2-way pagers!
  • ha thanks.
  • That's nice. But with a response that he gave leads to that conclusion by most. *I* have been using PalmOS phones/devices for about the same amount of time as well. But i'm not out there calling Palm "fanboys" annoying and delusional. If you have beef with Palm/HP/etc, then be clear and bash them... not the users. There were plenty of things webOS had that were far superior to anything Android has, maybe we are venting our frustration with that. iPhone and Nexus-or-nothing sheep *are* annoying tho. :-).
  • Gekko, unixpsycho, hkklife?! Man, this feels like a class reunion!! Now, all we need is for Dieter Bohn to tells us to be nice, for HelloNNNewman to give us homebrew advice, and for Rubenstein to pop up and give us false hope that he will buy webOS and fix everything!
  • Hi guys, long time no see. Posted via my HTC One S using the Android Central App
  • I don't appreciate your implication. I'm far more annoying and delusional than anything the blackberry camp could crank out.
  • Was the last webos phone that really small one Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 or Samsung galaxy S5
  • The Palm Pixi? Posted via Android Central App
  • The Veer
  • Are you unixpsycho who wrote the kernel? Name seems familiar from my webOS days.
  • yep. thats me. and i'm being called "delusional" and "annoying" today for remembering Palm. :-)
  • LOL, I saw that, gave me a good laugh when I realised it was you. I genuinely believe it wOuld be the best OS by now if HP had stuck it out. It had everything but the hardware, and it is more than here now.
  • I always thought if hp wanted to release a smart watch they should just put a strap on a veer. It only weighs half again as much as a Galaxy Gear even with the keyboard and a (for a watch) huge screen. Posted via Android Central App
  • HP Veer.
  • hmm
  • They were ahead of the time and the hardware was not there to leverage the ideas that they had. That's a shame. Posted via Android Central App
  • I'm still holding out hope that more and more functionality will end up on Android.
  • I still sometimes use a pre- to play pandora in my living room. I set up a frankenpre2 but after the touchpad-splosion we followed Matthias Duarte to Android. The touchpad is used daily but as a CM9 android tablet. I added wavelauncher to my Note2 so I still have swipe to swap apps. I miss still the customizations and the notifications. Posted via Android Central App
  • I did the same thing. My father uses a CM9 TouchPad, and my Mother in law and her mother both use webOS TouchPads on a daily basis. Posted via Android Central App
  • I miss it as well. Bought a Pre- on Sprint the day they came out. Switched a few times and finally to a Pre3 that I used for a while before switching to Android. I still miss synergy and so far no other phone has done it. Google is getting close, but still not there outside of SMS and Gtalk.
  • I also miss Synergy, the gestures, the wave bar, the notifications, and the simple logic of the thing. I will NEVER buy anything HP. My Pre2 is still running on WI-FI so I can reminisce once in a while. And several generations of PalmOS phones are still sitting in a drawer. I finally went to Android with my LG G2 just last November. Though illogical, I still have this ingrained hope that LG will someday put WebOS on a phone, perhaps as dual--boot or as an an ap.
  • I use Wave Launcher on Android to simulate the Wave Bar. Notifications on Android are similar enough and in some ways better. And there are a number of Android phones that have simulated the Card metaphor in the Task Switcher. As for Synergy and simplicity... I got nothing. I've often thought about designing and building a WebOS "Launcher" for Android. But haven't done it...
  • I just bought an LG TV with WebOS, so it lives on!
  • Will you post a review of that over in the forums? I'm really curious about it. I saw the tab-bar icons on some shots but I'm curious how it works in real-world scenarios.
  • its all here
  • I still have my Pre-! Love that damn thing and I always well! Long live Palm and let fall to the ground! :D :P
  • I just realized that in 5-10 years we are going to have to listen to the same kind of stuff from BlackBerry Users "it was so awesome..."
    it did this one thing great..."
    would still be around if... it is time to keep moving forward people...
  • This ^^^
    But not in 5 to 10 years. Lots of ex BB users are saying that now. Myself included. I miss my BB sometimes but have moved on. Lack of features and poor build quality were the reason I moved to Android. From my LG G2 via the DeathStar
  • That Palm Pre's notification light was the bees knees!
  • Between that and the onion on my belt (because that is what we all did back in the day) I was rolling in the women...
  • Loved the silence switcher as well. Posted via Android Central App
  • Thanks. Posted via Android Central App
  • I so miss this OS. I can't imagine what it would be like 4 years down the road. It was so far ahead of it's time and it was killed by a series of horrible decisions by people that thought they knew what they are doing. Synergy, cards, gestures, the alerting options, and patches.. oh the glorious patches.