The Competition: Palm webOS 1.1 Goes Live, Updates Over-the-Air


While the re-hacking of iTunes sync hogged a lot of attention yesterday, the bigger story is Palm updating the Pre to webOS 1.1.

And what were the major updates?

  • IT-initiated remote wipe
  • Required PIN with complexity
  • Device wipe after a certain number of failed PIN attempts
  • Auto-lock
  • Improved digital certificates

Our sibling site, is also keeping an updated list of webOS 1.1: Tons of Undocumented Features

May not sound like much compared to some iPhone updates, but here's the key thing we're taking away -- Palm is doing the update over the air (OTA). Unlike the iPhone, where 250ish MB firmware files need to be downloaded via iTunes and installed over USB tether, webOS sticks to its cloud-centric focus and calmly sips down 85MB or so during down time then installs when it's ready to go. If memory serves, Android did this as well with their 1.5 Cupcake release. Sounds like the future to us.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

The Competition: Palm webOS 1.1 Goes Live, Updates Over-the-Air


"sounds like the future to us"
If you think that sounds like any future for Apple, you seriously need your hearing checked. Far from aspiring to something like this, it is exactly the opposite of Apple's preferred methodology wherein they badly want consumers to have to connect to iTunes. If Palm or Google had any kind of comparable retail resource where they were making the profits that Apple makes via iTunes, you can rest assured their 85MB updates would "calmly sip down" through their retail store as well. Getting users to update via iTunes is integral to Apple's business model.

@ Jack Dodson, Apple's latest releases have shown that they are offering more away from iTunes. They added an online App & Music store. Then upgraded the Music store to include Video, Movies, Podcasts and iTunes U. Offering more wirelessly seems to be the direction that they're moving.
@ Rene, I agree that it sounds like the future - if AT&T would permit it. However, don't get caught up in the file sizes. While an 85 MG release is small compared to iPhone updates, not all have been 250 MB. Some of the X.1 releases have been smaller at around 125-150 MB and have included more features than what Palm released in 1.1.
Also, it's hard to see AT&T doing this when they won't allow Apps & Video files over 10 MB over their network and are challenged in bringing MMS to life.

iTunes is a cloud service, like the Reptile said, Apple is increasingly moving it to on-device.
No doubt 10 million (or whatever) iPhone users slamming AT&T for 100-250MB is a non-starter for now, but would Wi-Fi be an alternative or just another type of tether compared to 3G?

Downloading an iPhone update over the air would take way too long. I prefer the current method. It allows me to backup prior to the upgrade. That's a MUCH more sound way to approach an upgrade.

I would think updating while connected to wifi would be best. AT&T is never going to let people download 250 mg files over their network.. So why not let us use wifi? It's easier than going on the computer.
And with 3.1 beta enabling wifi dev testing it wouldn't be too hard to do on apples part..
But knowing apple they won't do this.

Personally, I hate the idea. When I'm no using my phone I want it to do one thing: sit quietly and wait for a call. Maybe my control freakishness puts me in the minority, but I want to update on my schedule...not when "the cloud" decides to do it for me.
Also, would this drain my battery any quicker?
If they present this as merely an option in settings though...disregard my objections.

You know palm I have to give you some type of respect today for the big balls you have for reallowing itunes sync. I'm purchasing a pre today and I will do my 30 day trial. 3 updates since its release, this is the new palm. Treos never seen this amount updates never.

I wish we could update over the air. :( Or at least sync videos and music over Wifi or Bluetooth.
Soon (hopefully).

@Rene Ritchie Don't you think Apple could make downloading updates from the 3G network less painful by using P2P?

Could you imagine WebOS on an Iphone 3gs.
Great UI meets great Hardware.
I wish someone could port it over.

so it's going to be downloading an os update in the background while the pre is running on battery, thus killing battery life. no thanks. at least with apples method the iphone is plugged in to a power source while doing an os update (as should any device), and i have the option to back up my stuff first. that said, the "device wipe after a certain number of failed pin attempts" thing is something apple should do too.

Over the air updates do not kill the battery, I have no idea where you're getting that impression. By the way, the Pre can be plugged into a power source during an OTA download. Lastly, the Pre has auto back up as well.

I've had a Pre that I test drove for three weeks.
The hardware is decent but lackluster, and the screen the same resolution as the iPhone but smaller (not good).
The OS has potential, but had too many bugs (I know, I know, it's a Gen I product), and really can't compete with the iPhone right now.
Also, doing simple stuff like copy & paste is painfully complicated, (and you can only copy editable text), email app is not the greatest, no word suggestions when typing misspelled words, and a litany of other things that I just could not get used to.
Also, the WebOS is nowhere near as snappy as my new 3Gs, (which I got after returning the Pre) and I am glad I did, I am never going back.
FWIW, Even if they did tweak the software, I could not get used to the cramped keyboard and small screen.

"sounds like the future" - actually more like the PREsent, if you own a prē. I was at an MLB game between rain delays when I began d/l the 87mb update over EDVO. Took all of 4 batters, and I was able to keep doing things on the phone (email, txt, check the pitcher change on ESPN). No one forced me to d/l the update while there--I was looking for it and chose to d/l it then. And then I chose not to install the update until I was home, tucked in bed with my head on the pillow. The prē worked fine when I awoke... my EAS emails had been pushed there overnight. It remembered all my settings and kept all my data. It just worked. No big deal. (Unlike some of my friends who lost their contacts when upgrading their iPhones last month.)