With webOS 1.4.0, Palm has introduced over 70 new feature enhancements and fixes to their customers. I installed the update on my Sprint edition Pre and have spent some time playing with it. What follows are my impressions of some of the new features you can look forward to in webOS 1.4.0.
YouTube Links in App Catalog
The new App Catalog now allows developers to embed a link to a YouTube video of their application in action as seen here for ETI Studios Dice Tower application. Just tap on the video link to the upper right of the screen an the video loads up in webOS’ YouTube player application. That’s a nice feature since I almost never go to a YouTube page to view a video of a webOS or iPhone application in action before I buy.
With this release of webOS, Palm has given their customers more control about how data is destroyed on a Pre or Pixi. There are now three types of data deletion options to delete applications and their data, everything from the USB drive partition, and a secure full erase (which erases apps, data, and the USB drive).
I think these features are important with so much focus on privacy today. You will want to use these features when you send your phone in for repair (don’t forget to back up first!), swap phones (for personal or corporate use), or give away or sell your phone when you get a new one. You won’t believe how many times over the last 10 years I have been told about stories of people buying a used phone and it still having the previous owner’s data still on it.
Finally, finally, you can receive a visual notice that your Pre or Pix wants to get your attention when the screen is off! When there is a new message waiting for you, like an unread email, the Center button on my Sprint Pre now blinks twice, waits four seconds, and then blinks again.
This new “feature” drives me nuts. Before this feature was baked, or perhaps half-baked, into webOS, I never thought that app load times where longer then any other smartphone. Now I have a graphic that gets in my face every time I launch a new application that reminds me that I have to wait for my application to load. Ugh! I hate the start up card because I almost always flick cards away when I’m done using an app, so I start apps up all the time. Hopefully, we’ll be given an option to turn this option off in a future release of webOS.
Improved Performance and Battery Life
I don’t have a screen shot for this one. I just hope that Palm continues to work on these issues. There are times when I’m left wondering what the hell my Pre is doing as I wait there wondering if the phone accepted my touch or keyboard command. I would like to see Palm’s software engineers to continue to improve the peppiness of webOS.
Battery life is my #1 gripe with the Pre and webOS, bar none. It is a serious problem in my book when a phone battery does dead in anything less than 48 hours. When I was using my Palm Treo 700p, Treo 755p, the BlackBerry Curve, and even now with my HTC Droid Eris, I can go a full two days without having to worry about charging my phone. With the Pre and webOS, I start to worry about the battery about happy hour. It’s hard to use your phone for social networking when the battery is dead. But more importantly than that, if I forget to put the Pre on my Touchstone charging base, I shouldn’t wake up in the morning to a dead phone. That is just the pits and I refuse to carry around another $50 battery to get the same run time as my older phones have right now.
In conclusion, there are a number of nice things included in this release of webOS. There are more features that I like than things I find annoying, and at the end of the day, I’ll get over them. If you like to have the latest and greatest software on your phone, download this update now using the Updates application.