HP updates TouchPad to WebOS 3.0.4

Firm keeps promise that it will continue supporting WebOS and HP TouchPad

The HP TouchPad hasn't gone the way of the dodo bird just yet, as Hewlett-Packard announced Tuesday that an over-the-air update to WebOS 3.0.4 is now available.

The update includes a new camera app for photos and video, the ability to pair non-WebOS smartphones to a TouchPad for answering calls via the TouchPad, and performance and user interface improvements.

Ari Jaaksi, head of WebOS and services at HP, blogged that the update is automatically downloaded to the TouchPad.

"We have a big number of TouchPads out there, and we wanted to continue serving users and developers," Jaaksi blogged. He noted that HP also has more than 1,000 apps available for TouchPad through its Application Catalog.

HP announced on Aug. 18 it was shuttering its WebOS device business, including the TouchPad that went on sale in early July.

But HP then put the 16 GB tablet on sale for $99 two days later, creating a mad rush at retailers. The original price had been $499.

After saying it would stop building WebOS devices, HP committed to keep developing webOS as a software platform and to continue developing the WebOS App Catalog.

Jaaksi's blog post reaffirms HP's earlier commitment to the platform and apps.

"We have also continued longer-term architectural development for WebOS," he wrote. "They Enyo framework and developer tools are getting a lot of attention now. We have also some very cool development around UI, especially in the area of working with many tasks simultaneously, and using the tablet screen even more efficiently. The Web development model, strong cloud integration and a fluid and beautiful UI are the cornerstones of WebOS."

Jaaksi concluded: " WebOS is a good operating system. I've done my own polls lately, too. I can see many TouchPads in Starbucks, Peets, and other such places. I often go and ask a user what they think about it. I'm getting very positive feedback! Last week I had my car in a repair shop formaintenance. I was in the waiting room working on my TouchPad when a mechanic came to me to deliver the keys. 'Hey, I've got a TouchPad, too. I love it!'"

Some TouchPad customers say they hope HP will sell off the WebOS technology, which was originally built by Palm and later acquired by HP. Selling off the business is seen by some as a way of ensuring continued long-term growth of the OS, although HP has not publicly looked to sell it off.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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