When webOS was laid to rest by HP after its acquisition of Palm, many of us wept for what was once a nice OS. It was a tad ahead of its time, but bad hardware and little developer support (due to low market share) eventually rendered it almost dead in water. Once the full guillotine came down, though, HP was nice enough to release the latest source code to the development community to do with it what they wish.
While nothing meaningful has come from it yet, many folks are hard at work on reviving webOS through the Open webOS project. The road hasn’t been smooth — in fact, it’s been nothing but bumpy. But we understand how hard it is to port an entire mobile OS to devices it was never intended to run on, and for that we can’t fault any of the developers hard at work on the task. Hell, we applaud them for sticking with it for so long.
An interesting new project is showing progress, though, and it has our eyes peeled for the time being. It’s being headed up by a group of volunteer developers who call themselves Phoenix International Communications, and the team is looking to get webOS up and running on the Nexus S 4G in the form of an APK. Yes, you read that right — they are attempting to wrap webOS into a single APK.
The project is in pre-alpha 2 status right now, and it most certainly shows. If I didn’t know any better I’d think the Nexus S had a 200MHz processor with 30MB of RAM. It’s slow to the point that it’s virtually unusable, and anyone trying to use this thing as a daily driver might as well take traditional torture as an alternative.
But progress is being made, and this method of emulation is quite interesting. If webOS can be emulated smoothly inside an APK it could widen compatibility by a boatload and make it as easy as pie to switch between two different operating systems. We don’t expect it to be quite that simple, though, so we’ll do our best not to get ahead of ourselves. Go ahead and check things out in the video embedded above.