HP announces Palm Pre 2 with webOS 2.0, launching 'soon' in US

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Palm on Tuesday formally announced its Pre 2 smartphone, with the webOS 2.0 mobile operating system re-branded to reflect HP's purchase of the company.

The Palm Pre 2 is set to launch on Friday in France, and will debut in North America — including the U.S. on carrier Verizon — in "the coming months." It's the same story for webOS 2.0, which is not yet available for owners of the existing Palm Pre models.

"With webOS 2.0, we're advancing the innovations we introduced 16 months ago, expanding the features that make webOS great for consumers, enterprises and developers," said Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president and general manager with the newly formed Palm Global Business Unit at HP. "We've made tremendous strides since the platform launched, and now we’re taking our biggest leap forward with powerful new features that make it easier to get more things done with your webOS device."

The Pre 2 is pitched as the first Palm phone with a gigahertz processor. The hardware also features a 5-megapixel camera, a glass screen, and a "sleeker, streamlined design" that maintains a slide-out keyboard.

Advertised simply as "coming soon" and only on Verizon in the U.S., the device will have a 3.1-inch multi-touch screen with a 320x480-pixel HVGA display. It has 16GB of internal storage, built-in GPS, an accelerometer, and ambient light and proximity sensors.

Both the Pre 2 and webOS 2 mark the first major updates from Palm since the company released the first Palm Pre and webOS 1.0 in 2009. While the platform was viewed as a last-ditch attempt to save the ailing Palm, the company was acquired by HP in April for $1.2 billion.

Palm officially unveiled webOS 2.0 in August, when it released its beta software development kit to developers. The new version of webOS has new features like an expanded universal search that developers can tap into, and new HTML5 capabilities and enhancements.

HP took the opportunity Tuesday to highlight some of the features in the forthcoming webOS 2.0 update. They include:

  • True Multitasking - Pause a game, tap an email notification, check your calendar, read a restaurant review, send an email reply, then switch back to the game without closing anything. webOS lets you easily manage multiple open applications and notifications using natural touch gestures. New in webOS 2.0, Stacks logically groups together your open apps so they work the way you do. Whether you’re reading email or planning a night on the town, Stacks keeps related items together so managing multiple tasks is even easier.
  • Just Type - Start an email, create a message, update your status, search your favorite websites – all before you’ve even opened an app. With webOS 2.0, whenever you want to do something on your phone – whether it’s emailing, texting, searching or almost anything – just type. And Just Type is open to developers, so they can integrate with the search function and add their own user-customizable shortcuts, called Quick Actions.
  • HP Synergy - webOS was the first mobile OS to connect you seamlessly to multiple web services. With the Synergy feature, you just have to sign in to your Facebook, Google, Microsoft® Exchange, LinkedIn and Yahoo! accounts and your information automatically populates your phone. webOS 2.0 will extend the support for Synergy so developers can easily plug new Messaging, Contacts and Calendar application sources directly into the core webOS experiences.
  • Exhibition - A new way to use your webOS phone, Exhibition lets you run apps designed specifically for the Palm Touchstone Charging Dock, turning charge time into useful time. Set your phone on the dock and Exhibition launches automatically, showing you anything from today’s agenda to a slideshow of your Facebook photos. Exhibition will enable developers to display aspects of their existing app experience or create specialized apps for use when users have their webOS device in charge mode on the charging dock.
  • Adobe Flash Player 10.1 Beta - With version 2.0, webOS now supports a beta of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 in the browser, which provides access to rich, Flash-based web content.