Palm WebOS 1.4

Of course, mere days after posting my in-depth review of the Palm Pre Plus and the Palm WebOS operating system, the much-anticipated WebOS 1.4 update came out. The updated operating system was released on Saturday, February 27 to Sprint customers, and Sunday, February 28 to Verizon customers like Melissa and me.

Palm’s update mechanism is dummy-proof: the phone downloads the update and installs it on its own while it’s charging (usually overnight, I’d assume). From what I’ve been reading, this is spread out over time to prevent Palm’s servers from getting overloaded. If you’re a nerd like me who can’t bear waiting for the OS to do its own thing, you can also manually initiate the update whenever you like. I did it Sunday morning, as soon as I read online that the update was available. I have no idea how long it would have taken for the phone to find out on its own.

The update probably took a half hour or so to download (over WiFi) and install. Download times likely would have been quite a bit longer over the data network, even on 3G. After completing the download the phone reset itself and installed the update (with a classy, no-frills, round progress indicator). Without any hiccups, everything was ready to go

The biggest new feature Palm brings out with WebOS 1.4 is video recording. Palm took their time bringing this feature to the platform, but they did a good job with it. It records in the MP4 format and allows for limited editing and direct sharing via YouTube, Facebook, email, and MMS. Beyond this major feature addition, WebOS 1.4 mostly offers increased polish and incremental improvement. The LED in the gesture area will now blink to indicate you have a waiting notification. When you launch an application, a ‘placeholder’ card shows up immediately which lets you know it’s doing something (and lets you preemptively close the app. if you opened it in error).

Performance seems to be slightly improved and ‘snappier,’ and battery life seems to be improved. I seem to be getting about 20 percent better battery life so far, which is pretty significant. All-in-all, a solid improvement. Thanks, Palm! :-)

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.