Up Close With HP's TouchPad and WebOS

Join us on a visual tour of WebOS on the new HP TouchPad tablet.

Welcome to the HP TouchPad

The design of the HP TouchPad is clean and basic, with a black plastic border that matches the deep black of the screen's own bezel. The unit has a single button, for returning to home; built in around that button is HP Touchstone technology, which enables wireless transfers between WebOS handsets and the tablet. Here you can see a full Web page, displayed on the TouchPad in horizontal orientation.

Quick Navigation

Regardless of the TouchPad's orientation, a quick-launch bar sits at the bottom of the screen. The bar comes preconfigured with icons for six frequently used apps, but HP says you'll be able to have up to ten apps docked here.

App Menus

For organizing apps, you get two tabs to start: All and Favorites.

Calendar Syncing

The Calendar view shown here looks fairly standard in comparison with those of rival tablets. What's different is WebOS's Synergy feature, which provides seamless syncing of content from one device to another via the cloud. It syncs with Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Yahoo; change something in one spot, and the change comes through across your WebOS devices.

Contacts View

Synergy cloud syncing works across contacts, as well. As you can see here, HP has taken full advantage of the widescreen real estate of the TouchPad tablet.

Multitasking, WebOS-Style

WebOS is organized around thumbnails of open apps--also known as Activity Cards--presented along a central ribbon. Here you can see two different Web browser windows open and stacked together. Bonus points to WebOS for being able to stack Web browser windows with other relevant documents, photos, or messages.


Through notifications, you can view e-mail and messages, and flick through them with a quick finger swipe. Here you can see how easy it is to move between messages.

The Status Bar

At the top right of the screen is the status display. Tap the downward arrow at the left to access messages; tap the one at the right for quick access to settings options.

WebOS Settings Shortcut

HP's WebOS does a great job of providing access to the options you'll likely change most frequently, as well as to the status items you need most often. Battery life, screen brightness, Wi-Fi, VPN, Bluetooth, airplane mode, rotation lock, and mute--you'll find all of that clearly delineated in a drop-down menu accessible by tapping the downward arrow at the upper right of the screen.

E-Mail: Three-Pane Navigation

As with Contacts, HP has optimized the e-mail view to take advantage of the wider screen of horizontal tablets. The idea is to flick among the three panes; the touch controls on the bottom of the middle pane let you control actions. For example, you tap on one button to activate the ability to select multiple items, after which you tap the items you want and then choose an action, such as deleting them or dragging them to a folder. The finger controls are very intuitive.

SMS Everywhere

One nifty aspect of Synergy: If you have an SMS sent to your WebOS cell phone, it will also transmit to your tablet.

Universal Search

Another major feature of WebOS is its universal search through the newly renamed Just Type. This feature, from the homescreen, searches for matches across cloud-based material and your local files.

Keyboard, Large Version

Another nicety of WebOS on the TouchPad: the ability to change the size of the on-screen keyboard. Shown here is the largest keyboard...

Keyboard, Narrow Version

...and shown here, the narrow-key version. You can switch with a tap of a button, appropriately enough, on the keyboard.

Note one other benefit: a number row at the top, exactly as laptop and desktop keyboards have. No more switching to another keyboard just for numbers--it's about time someone thought of that.

Amazon Kindle Preloaded

HP announced that the TouchPad would have Amazon's Kindle app preloaded. As you can see here, the Kindle app offers a colorful bookshelf library.

Inside a Kindle Book

Judging from what HP showed in demonstrations, what's interesting about the Amazon Kindle app on WebOS is the background it presents for book pages: The texture has a grayish-white property to it that mimics e-paper and regular paper (as closely as an LCD screen can handle, at least).

The Photo Viewer

HP has completely redesigned the Photo Viewer in the TouchPad WebOS to take full advantage of the screen real estate. Again, cloud syncing is a key feature. For example, updates you make here can go straight to Facebook in a simple one-step process; and if you create folders and move images among them, you can easily port those folders back to a PC, since they're stored in a standard file-folder structure that Windows can see when you plug the TouchPad into your PC (it connects via a Micro-USB port and appears as a USB mass-storage device).  

Sports Illustrated App

Time Inc. made a big show of support for WebOS at HP's grand unveiling, and this Sports Illustrated app featured in demos. The app looks similar, but not identical, to what we saw at the Android event; the idea on both operating systems is for content within the layout to be accessible separately, without necessarily leaving the layout view (for example, a slideshow of images, or a video that plays next to related words).

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