The Palm Pre 2 has been unveiled as HP's first sortie into the smart phone jungle, and it'll run the brand-new webOS 2.0 software.
The Palm Pre 2 will be released in France this week, unusually. So far HP hasn't given us any information on UK availability or pricing, but we'll be a little surprised if the handset doesn't arrive here before Christmas. It will have a 3.1-inch multitouch screen, a 1GHz processor, a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, a slide-out Qwerty keyboard, an accelerometer, GPS and 16GB of storage. It looks uncannily like the first Palm Pre.
With its purchase of Palm, HP had a ready-made smart phone OS at the ready, and has wasted little time in taking advantage. The webOS 2.0 update will be delivered to existing Palm devices, and the Palm Pre 2 will run it out of the box.
WebOS 2.0 looks like a very significant update that compares well to the other smart phone operating systems out there, and now has the backing of the mighty HP, which could be crucial in its success. With the first webOS on the Palm Pre we saw one of the first examples of useable multitasking, and this has been improved with the update. A new feature called Stacks keeps your apps in a logical order and should reduce clutter.
There's also a new system called Just Type, which allows you to do things like email, message, update your statuses and search a website just by typing. WebOS 2.0 also improves the Synergy feature, which automatically populates your Web information.
WebOS 2.0 will support a beta of Flash 10.1 in the browser, giving Palm owners a feature Android users are only starting to see with Android 2.2. There's also an interesting sounding feature called Exhibition that makes your phone do funky things while charging on the dock, like put on a photo slideshow or show you the agenda of the day.
HP's move into smart phones is very interesting. The original webOS was decent, created by a firm that really knew mobiles. Palm handsets never really caught the public's imagination, but with marketing and distribution support from a bona fide technology giant, there's another mighty hat in the ring.