Palm’s name may be revived in a recent way, with a smaller companion Android phone. Sold by HP ever since it was purchased, however, the Palm consumer tech market was nothing more than a historical footnote. This is not to say that its legacy is not alive to date and at least one effort is trying to put it on life support for version 2.0 of the webOS open source version.
WebOS was born at a time when Android and iOS do not yet have a monopoly on the mobile market. As the name has become synonymous with PDAs, Palm tried to make itself more relevant with a card-centric interface for Linux-based webOS and phones. It failed and was later acquired by HP who tried to do the same for bullets. That too failed and last year an open source edition was sold to LG to use for its smart TV before opening.
That WebOS OSE, as it is called, reached the 2.0 milestone last month, proving that the project was still alive. Last week, version 2.1 was also released, proving that it was more than just survival, it was well and kicking as well. Better yet, at least for fans, it was growing beyond the limits of its smart TVs and into smart homes and smart cars.
Version 2.0, in particular, adopted a firmware over-the-air or FOTA update system, a requirement for use in automotive systems. It also changed its reference development tool to Raspberry Pi 4, which is an interesting and significant change. In addition to improved hardware, the new single-board-computer also supported dual displays, which are becoming common in modern cars. The accessible and inexpensive Raspberry Pi 4 also opens webOS for more developers and builders, making it easier to get started with the OS.
In other words, WebOS OSE version 2.0 has made the platform more open to various use cases, despite a clear focus on automotive applications. This does not mean that there will be companies that are willing to take risks and put webOS on smartphones, but with the likes of Purism Librum 5 and Pinefone, some users may be able to do so on their own.