HP updates mobile platform with webOS 2.0

Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday announced the next-generation Palm OS, calling webOS 2.0 the “most significant upgrade” since the mobile platform was introduced in 2009.

HP’s new Palm Pre 2 smartphone, which will first be available on Friday in France from wireless carrier SFR, will be the first to ship with webOS 2.0, HP said. The Palm Pre 2 will become available in the coming months in the U.S. through Verizon Wireless and in Canada.

The Palm Pre 2 has a 3.1-inch screen, runs on a 1GHz processor and will include a 5-megapixel camera, a company spokesman said. It weighs about 145 grams (5.1 ounces) The spokesman declined to comment on the phone’s pricing.

HP has said that webOS 2.0 will go into many other devices besides smartphones, such as tablets.

The new OS has many new features such as multitasking, HP said. Users will be able to run and easily switch between multiple applications. It also features a new “Just Type” feature from which users can search for data on a device or the Internet, and also start writing e-mails or update status messages before opening an application. Customized shortcuts help enable these actions.

WebOS also supports Flash 10.1 and HTML5 for users to watch video on the Internet. A feature called Synergy can automatically connect and populate the smartphone with data from e-mail services like Microsoft Exchange, or from websites such as Google and Facebook.

Applications including Skype Mobile will also run on the OS, and users will be able to call other Internet users, or land lines and cell phones at low rates. It also integrates Google Docs, and includes Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, which will allow users to view Microsoft Office files. It also allows users to connect to VPNs and access their corporate networks.

WebOS will compete in the mobile OS space against competitors from Apple, Google and Microsoft, which last week introduced Windows Phone 7.

HP completed the acquisition of Palm in July.

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