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webOS 2 launches early access

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Palm has made public details of webOS 2, and launched an Early Access Program for developers, proving that HP has plans for the platform it acquired back in April.

webOS is the platform used on the Palm Pre and its siblings, but version 2 promises great things in the form of stacked multitasking, identity aggregation, and HTML 5 support, as well as improvements to binary integration allowing JavaScript applications to call up routines written in a proper programming language such as C.

When Palm launched webOS we were told that C and C++ applications would be unnecessary as everything would be done using AJAX (extended AJAX, even Palm didn't believe Steve Jobs' assertion that local applications were redundant). When we pushed at the time, Palm admitted that some partners would be allowed to create native libraries to enhance graphics performance, a capability that becomes standard in webOS 2.

Identity aggregation has always been central to webOS, combining interfaces of all the popular social networking and cloud services into the on-device applications. But version 2 allows developers to interact with that aggregated data, to integrate their applications better.

But it's Stacks which will probably get most attention. webOS already shows running tasks as cards, which can be slid around the screen, but with version 2 comes the ability to group those cards into stacks (which look more like a spread hand of playing cards).

Running all those tasks at the same time will require some serious hardware, but there aren't really any clues about what that hardware might look like. Current thinking is that HP will put webOS 2 on its tablet, which has been associated with all the popular mobile OSs in its time (iOS excluded). That would provide HP with something different, increasingly important with Android tablets popping up all over the place - but it would be good to see another handset or two as well. ®

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