WebOS vs Android

I just got an Evo to upgrade from my Palm pre. I’m most surprised by the Evo in that it is not a pure killer of the WebOS Palm pre.  Here are initial findings.

Hardware: Here there is no comparison. The Evo is fast and good looking. The Palm pre started with hardware issues (Slider, screen effects). Memory wise, the Palm pre plus is actually better, but evo’s expansion fixes lots of issues, and android 2.2 will make use of the SDHC card easy for applications. I got used to the pre’s keyboard, but honestly I don’t have a real preference (yet) between the on-screen one for the Evo or the slider physical one for the pre. I hate that using it takes away my screen real-estate, but not enough feeling there to really care. Size-wise, the evo is really big, almost too big, whereas the palm pre was really small, almost too small. (Same resolution). I’d rather error on big here though.

WebOS vs Android: Now this is very preliminary, so I can’t talk about much here. However, WebOS is far better in the area of multi-tasking from a usability perspective. You can easily see what applications you have open where the concept of ‘open apps’ is basically hidden from you in the android. Though that may be technically irrelevant, switching between apps (especially while talking on the phone) is far easier on WebOS then android.

The second thing that weirded me out was email/contacts/calendar integration. WebOS integrations seamlessly between Gmail, yahoo, facebook and corporate google apps account. One application for mail, one for calendar, one for contacts. Android has a gmail integration, and a mail integration. Two separate apps.  Now, gmail on android functions like gmail on the web browser, which is nice, but it makes no sense to treat these so different. Also, as of yet I cannot get my work calendar in my Android without having to share it with my personal gmail account. No question that palm having years to deal with these types of issues have paid off. Though I continue to be surprised that both integrated facebook calendar and contacts perfectly. (Where are my yahoo contacts?)

Apps is a no brainer. Android has more then WebOS.  But the apps ‘feel’ very different on the two devices. I’m not sure one ‘feels’ better then the other, but its a stark contrast. WebOS launches them, and switching between two active apps is as fluid as if you were on a computer having multiple windows open. Android seems to leave you in place when you go after the next app. You cannot see them as windows or are separate functioning applications. So WebOS has more of a computer feel to it and Android feels more like a phone. Which is better? Not sure yet, but my gut instinct is that I’d prefer the WebOS feel on a tablet. Honestly, I’ll have to see if this is just the process of getting used to Android after using WebOS for a year.

I’ll have to play more with media on the device to see how that is. I was never overly impressed with the pre there, and was still using my Cowon S9 (or even D2) instead of the pre. Evo will be well worth it if it functions well here too, though I’m really picky about that.  I’ll give another review in a few weeks and see if I change my mind from these initial impressions. I really was surprised that the Evo is not a ‘slam dunk’ as far as better then Palm pre… I do know that my wife would really hate to give up her pre.

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3 thoughts on “WebOS vs Android

  1. M.I. Richard Hertz says:

    I think you might be missing a crucial concept when speaking about ‘open apps’. While yes you can switch between apps there is no guarantee that your app is still running when you go to switch to it.

    Also, launching an app from the home screen doesn’t launch a new instance if it’s already running. So taking some time to organize your apps will make switching to them easier and you won’t be stuck long pressing home only to find out your app has been killed and you have to relaunch it anyway.

    • wolpert says:

      No, I’m not missing that ‘crucial’ concept. I know the app could die. That’s not the point. The process of switching between running apps is fluid and smooth. Hell, seeing what is running is easier in WebOS then Android. Kinda of hard to argue that.

      Honestly, what’s happening behind the scenes isn’t the issue. Both are acceptable to me. Its the usability that’s different and something to get used to. WebOS gets the usability correct in my view. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the Evo. I’m just surprised that Android on it wasn’t clearly better then WebOS on the Palm pre. WebOS is really quite good… the pre isn’t the best hardware. I’m happy that there have been good competitors to a market dominated by Apple.

  2. wolpert says:

    I have to add a point here. Palm pre was not perfect by a long shot. The hardware was crap, (battery too loose, slider got loose, easy to crack screen) and it took a bunch of tries to get apps off the ground; too long to hand out the SDK. Not to mention that it took 6 months for them to be able to use all of the flash memory for apps. (Android still waiting for 2.2 for a supported version of that. Palm had a hack early on too like Android does now.)

    The thing is WebOS worked really well out-of-the-box from a joe-consumer point of view. They got a lot of the small things, (touchstone integration, IM with many services, even pausing audio if headphones removed) even though they missed some of the big things. Palm also made it easy to hack the pre. Google made Android easy too. Both do it better then Apple. I still believe the WebOS is on par with Android; while the evo as a device is killing the original palm pre. Of course, with Palm/HP, WebOS may never amount to much. But it was a damn good final shot from a dying company.

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