The mighty little OS that could is open source again. LG has revealed webOS OSE (Open Source Edition) under an Apache licence and ported it to the Raspberry Pi hardware.
HP, which acquired webOS from original developers Palm, open-sourced it in 2011 and promised to invest. A community of fans gathered in 2012 in an attempt to revive interest, but these hopes were dashed the following year, when LG acquired the rights.
A lot has changed over the years, and webOS OSE comes with a new toolchain and frameworks. Many parts will be familiar to developers: Qt, for example, and the Enact UI framework. Developers need to be using Ubuntu on a Linux box as Windows and Mac are not yet supported.
LG's webOS team won plaudits for providing such a seductive and intuitive TV interface – thanks to rejecting Korean HQ's design ideas, we learn from this 2014 article.
webOS flickered only briefly but spectacularly in the smartphone market, as HP changed its management and software strategy, deciding that it didn't really want to make phones after all. Until it did again. Or maybe not.
Many ideas of the webOS UI for phones were subsequently copied by Apple and Google: most notably the all-gesture UI (no buttons), and a card-based interface. LG's goal is to take it beyond TVs and fridges – where it resides today – and into new generations of devices.
With the iOS and Android duopoly now very predictable, and BB10 and Windows Phone falling by the wayside, a fresh face on the smartphone market would be very welcome. ®