A beta emulator of HP’s webOS 3.0 leaked, and enthusiasts wasted no time putting together an extensive video walk-through of the platform on a virtual tablet. While webOS is still a work in progress, nearly 19 minutes of feature demonstrations show a highly user-friendly and effective touch interface. Software is only part of the equation, of course; HP will have to entice developers to create applications for the TouchPad tablet, due out this summer.
PreCentral’s Derek Kessler provides the virtual tablet tour, and even the naysayers would have to admit that webOS 3.0 impresses. Much of the user interface has an Apple iOS look-and-feel, just as the original Palm Pre handset did, but there are noticeable differences and improvements. The webOS notification system allows for email triage, for example. A word auto-completion feature, similar to that on many smartphones, is available. In landscape view, the email client can show mail in full-screen mode or users can view both mail contents and folders with one swipe. And while it’s not shown in this video demo, HP’s webOS phones interact directly and wirelessly with the TouchPad via the Touchstone technology: touching the phone to the tablet, for example, can shoot a website address from one to another.
My take on the video demo mirrors Om’s thoughts from when he took an early look at HP’s tablet efforts in February:
In theory, it seems to be one of the best competitors for the Apple iPad (I think Google’s Android OS on tablets is a tad half-baked). By using its core multitasking features, HP has created an extremely integrated user experience that marries applications to actual usage behavior and workflows.
Of course, a solid and fully-featured mobile device platform alone won’t sell tens of millions of TouchPads for HP. Outside he tablet pricing and hardware components — HP has already announced the specs and this shouldn’t be an issue — the TouchPad’s biggest challenge to success will be the quality and amount of third-party software. That’s still the big unknown. But if mobile app developers are impressed by the operating system’s early look, and HP can woo them with incentives, TouchPad sales might keep the forecasters honest. Recent estimates pegged HP with a paltry 3-percent market share for tablets by 2015.