HP has chosen the release of its entry into the tablet market, the TouchPad, to launch its new operating system, webOS.
With its roots in technology acquired when HP purchased Palm in April last year, webOS will eventually be rolled out across HP’s entire device spectrum, although the general manager, Paul Boshoff, gives no indication how long this may take.
"This is a very important first start for HP in this space,” Boshoff says.
"It is important that we get it right.”
The operating system is predicated on making it more efficient for users to access and combine information across a wide variety of applications.
For example, webOS can combine the user’s contact lists from different email applications into one place, allowing the user to manage several accounts from one page. Likewise things like photos in social media sites.
webOS also offers ‘true multitasking’, allowing users to stack web pages like ‘cards’, and group apps according to their subject matter, like piles of paper on a desk.
Another handy feature is what HP calls Just Type, which is a search function that searches for a word and offers a selection of apps depending on what the user may be trying to do.
HP says its webOS app store features thousands of applications, including all the standard apps such as Facebook.
As for the tablet itself, while it may seem the market is getting crowded, Boshoff says saturation point is still a long way off.
"We expect the tablet market to grow between four and six times in the next few years,” Boshoff says, "so we don’t worry when people say the market is saturated.”
The TouchPad should be a competitive entry, arriving just a month after the Motorola Xoom. Available in wi-fi only, the TouchPad is priced to match the iPad 2 at $799 for a 16GB model and $949 for 32GB.
Boshoff says the battery life is an impressive 8 hours running intensive applications, or up to four days just playing music.
The battery charges automatically when the TouchPad is left on the TouchStone stand (sold separately).
More info on the TouchPad can be found here.