Switching from webOS to iPhone 4? Here's what you need to know!

How to make the switch from Palm webOS to Apple iPhone 4

iPhone 4 with its 960x640 retina display, easy-peasy FaceTime video calling, high quality 5 megapixel, back-illuminated camera that shoots 720p 30fps video, and the silky smoothness of iOS 4 convincing you to switch from Palm's Pre or Pixi to Apple's newest handset? Worried about moving over your personal data like contacts, finding apps, getting used to the differences? Wondering where to get help?

Relax. You're in the the right place. Follow along after the break for everything you need to know (more properly, everything the <a href=http://forums.imore.com/iphone-forum/191973-official-switching-palm-webos-iphone-4-thread.html">TiPb iPhone Forums have taught us) about switching from Android to iPhone 4 and iOS 4.

(And yes, we've done Android, Windows Phone</a, and BlackBerry switcher guides as well).

webOS to iPhone - home coming

When half of Apple's original iPhone team left for Palm to make the webOS, maybe you went with them? Or maybe you're a loyalist who went from Treo to Centro to Pixi and never even considered an iPhone until now? No worries. That was then and this is now -- iPhone 4 and iOs 4 now. Getting you up to speed and ready to go now.

Moving over contacts, calendars, and email

Hopefully if you're using something called webOS your personal info is all store up in the cloud. If so, you should have no trouble getting it onto your iPhone. Just the pioneering Pre, iOS 4 can handle multiple ActiveSync accounts, including Exchange proper and Google Sync's implementation. Just tap the Settings icon on the Home Screen, tap Mail, Contacts, and Calendars, choose Exchange, and enter your credentials.

If ActiveSync isn't to your fancy, you can tap Other and set up pretty much any POP3 or IMAP account you have in your collection, and MobileMe, Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail, and anything else you can think of.

You can also load up any webmail account you like in the Safari web browser, including gmail.com, if that's how you want to roll.

And you can access all of it in the new iOS 4 unified inbox and threaded email client. It's not full on Synergy, but...

What about Synergy and Cards

There's nothing as stupendous as Synergy built into iOS 4, though the previously mention Exchange, Google, and MobileMe contacts, calendars, and email can live together in quasi-synergistic fashion. If you install the Facebook app [iTunes link] you can get some contact mojo going on there as well. Other apps, like Orbit [iTunes link] can pull together your Facebook, Twitter, SMS, email, etc. contacts and let you assign different "volumes" to them so you can manage the level of interruption.

iOS 4 introduces a highly abstracted version of multitasking that, for mainstream users, would be indistinguishable from the real thing were it not for the great battery life and overall snappiness. Rather than Cards, you double click the Home button and the fast app switcher UI appears so you can quickly get to other apps (which can now save state so you go back to where you left them). But hey, if you find yourself missing Cards, just launch the Safari browser and hit the icon for Page view. It's visually almost identical, though it lacks the ability to flick a page away to remove it.

And yes, in iOS 4, navigation, VoIP, and streaming music Pandora or Slacker-style can all multitask away blissfully in the background.

Finding other apps (and games)

Palm is the most developer friendly platform in the business bar none. They make Google seem closed and stodgy by comparison. But what Apple lacks in free-as-in-speech open App Store gates, they make up for in sheer tonnage of free-as-in-beer App Store goodness. And $0.99 goodness. And pretty much goodness at every level. Sure, there's a lot of CrApps in with those apps, but at 200,000 and growing there's also a huge amount of incredibly good, incredibly native, apps and games.

As Steve Jobs himself will tell you, Apple also supports HTML5 as a second, completely open platform. With local caching now available, HTML5 web apps can look and act far more like native apps. If you can't find something in the App Store, chances are you can find it as a web app for the iPhone.

When it comes to apps of all kinds, TiPb reviews several a week and we've got a whole iPhone Apps and Games Forum ready to help you out as well.

Root meet Jailbreak

Again, Palm is so open and community friendly they make the Symbian foundation blush. There's no manufacturer supported rooting on iPhone, and no ultra-cool Konami code to enter developer mode, and no encouraged patching of any kind. (Apple says "stop it" and would give the EFF noogies if they could.)

If you want to get into the root jail of your iPhone, you need to break it -- hence, Jailbreak. If you want to side load apps outside the iTunes app store, you need to use the Jailbreak app store, Cydia (or Rock). Now, if you don't understand what any of this means, just skip along to the next section, we'll be there waiting. If you're a diehard themer and patcher, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled to our Jailbreak coverage, and more importantly -- our Jailbreak Help Forum, and Jailbreak Apps, Games, and Themes Forum.

No. More. Keyboard.

You won't be able to shave or cut cheese with the iPhone keyboard -- because it's virtual. If you believe the urban legend, current Palm CEO, Jon Rubenstein, back when he was still a VP at Apple, vigorously disagreed with Steve Jobs about the iPhone not having a physical keyboard. Hence, the Pre and Pixi both have physical keyboards.

And that's okay. Just not on the iPhone. Apple likes their keys virtual so they go away when you don't need them (without creaking, oreo'ing, popping batteries, or coming to the rescue when virtual keyboards just won't do). On the plus side, if you're multilingual or international, the iPhone keyboard can easily be switched to any alphabet, script, stroke, or pictographic symbol you want to use. It can also become optimized for numbers, games, or pretty much anything you (technically, a developer) can think of.

Best of all, if you really miss your physical keyboard, with iOS 4, you can tether up a Bluetooth one and knock email -- and yourself -- out.

Welcome back, iTunes

Remember Palm trying and ultimately failing to hack the Pre into iTunes? With iPhone, you're a first (and only) class citizen with full keys to Apple's media kingdom. Enjoy.

So long, OTA updates

And you'll need that iTunes because while you can do a lot of things OTA (over the air), including syncing all your personal data via ActiveSync (including Google Sync) or MobileMe, download apps, and buy or rent iTunes music, TV shows, movies, podcasts, etc. (20MB or under over 3G, any size over Wi-Fi), updating the OS ain't on. (Backing up ain't two.)

Likewise, you can find apps that let you access your Google Docs, DropBox, Box.net, and other online storage. You can even convert and stream content on the fly with apps like AirSharing [iTunes]. But at some point, be it to install a software update like iOS 4.1 (probably due this fall) or backup your data, you're going to need to plug in to iTunes. So 2007, we know. If it's any consolation, Apple should release iTunes.com at some point...

Say WTH to interruptive notifications

Palm rules the roost with their elegant, non-interuptive, notification system. Compared to that utopia, iOS 4 notifications are some bizarre UI hell we'll likely be immolating in until the next major OS update.

Here's the condemnation - you get one notification popup at a time that you have to view or close before you can resume what you were doing (or about to do) and once you close it -- or another notification pops up on top of it -- it's gone forever.

More webOS to iPhone help and information

If you haven't already, check out our complete iOS 4 feature walkthrough. There's an incredible amount of stuff in iOS 4 and you can save yourself some serious time cribbing off of us.

If you need help, or have a story to share, check out TiPb's iPhone forum -- we've got a special switching from webOS to iPhone 4 thread going just for you!

And if we forgot anything or just plain got something wrong, let us know and we'll add it or fix it.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

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+.

More Posts



← Previously

iPad live podcast #9: No update for you!

Next up →

iPhone 4 reviews - what they're saying

Reader comments

Switching from webOS to iPhone 4? Here's what you need to know!


If someone has been using WebOS, I don't understand HOW they can switch to anything other than Android. Apple really missed the boat with multi-tasking.

Joe - based on my own extensive usage, and after speaking to a ton of developers, Apple might have "missed the boat" but they may also have "invented the hydrofoil".
It's a very smart implementation.

i have used the multitasking and fast app switching with my dads 3GS and i must say im happy with it
-im a pre first day owner, btw.

All you need to know: if you switched to an iPhone from a palm phone, you blew it.

I'm switching and I say good riddance to the Pre. I'm even an embedded linux dev and I'm over WebOS and its highly hacked and outdated kernel. Plus choosing Java as your UI was a big no no and memory hog.
Just waiting for my ip4 to be delivered today and flashing it with a diff OS and hopefully not bricking it.

When I switched from a Blackberry to my iPhone last year, I used Google Sync to ensure that all my contacts and calendar appointments were not lost. Worked like a charm and now I only store my contacts and calendar items on Google. It's the best syncing option out there.

why would u want to buy an iPhone 4 and flash it with a different os?? Makes no sence to me. Like that guy who put android on iPhone. It's an acheivement and a pat on the back but why??? It's useless. if u want android, buy android to get the best experience. Why don't u give me the iPhone 4 I'll give u my 3gs and u can install whatever u want. Deal???

nice iphone4, but I like my Palm Pre and will stay...i am excited to see the new Palm device coming up...after everyone else... (plur)

The iphone 4's got some ncie hardware and I'm considering moving over to it just for that. While the software is really lagging behind I think iOS4 is close enough to webOS now that it will be bareable.
Obviously if palm brings out more hardware and it's close to or as good as the iphone 4 I'll be straight back on webOS.
And if they bring new hardware before the iphone 4 has been out long enough for it to be a reasonable price then I guess I won't be getting the iphone 4 at all.

multitasking...I've been doing that for a year with native and third party apps. The iphone third party apps require recode to get them to multi-task with iOS4. Keeping my Palm...

The iPhone supports tasks and memo syncing way better than webOS's gimped PIM apps.
Hopefully Palm fixes that... eventually.

I've been using a Palm device since the Palm III. No one makes a better pim in my view. The iPhone is onto something with Face Time, but then again so is the EVO 4 on Sprint. The Palm Pre Plus or WebOS is just to smooth to leave. Besides Apple doesn't seem to create anything. They "improve" on everybody else's creations. Once Palm One or HPalm or whatever they'll call it once HP completes the integration, comes out with a video chat phone or an over-the-air upgrade for the current Web OS devices on the street, everybody leaving will be right back. Apple is great at marketing (like the way they make people think they invented mp3 players). Apple is just getting to be too "big brotherish" for this brother. I'm sticking with my Palm Pre Plus. Keep your heads up Web OS users and stay the course.

This is more of a Palm bash and iPhone advertisement than a guide. If it's going to be a guide, make it a guide instead of a one-sided comparison. I can only assume the Android guide is the same.
For example, you could explain how to get to your speed dial quickly as you can in webOS. In webOS, if 3 is the speed dial to your uncle and you need to call him, you can just press and hold the number three at any time the desktop is at all visible and it will automatically launch the dialer and dial. Well... how do you do something similar to that on the iPhone 4?? I think anyone seriously considering switching would like to know.
All I'm saying is that instead of pointing out the main 5 features and acting like iPhone's implementation is (usually) better (opinion)... use factual information and point out the things that make webOS simple to use and how that can be duplicated on the iPhone 4 to make the transition for webOS users an easier one. Also, Some screenshots would help.

Nice iPhone4... But i like my Pre w/Sprint...i am also excited to see Palms new Devices comming up later this year...

Even on the iPhone 3gs you don't need all that extra hassle of setting up speed dials. Just press the home key for a couple of secs, and say "Phone Uncle John mobile". Speech recognition that works :-)

The iPhone experience is almost perfect. Its not about any single feature, but the whole package coming together.
I owned a palm pre for over a year. I will never go back.

I'm not convinced, I like my OTA updates and my perfectly working antenna, oh and not to mention I also like that Palm doesn't spy on me........ or collect information... or is going to force me to revert my phone if "jailbroken" over an update which you all agreed to when you bought it and installed itunes. good luck with that fanboys.

Stood in line for 8 hours at the Apple store, was about to input my credit card information to complete the purchase but with the iPhone 4 in my left hand and my Sprint Palm Pre in my right hand, i just couldn't stop comparing. The iPhone 4 hardware is top notch and the screen is stunning but iOS 4 was just not cutting. Its eaier navigating on WebOS and using cards to multitask is too great to let go. So in the end, i decided to cancel the iPhone 4 purchase and walk away with my old-plastic-scratched Palm Pre with a $trillion WebOS.
Palm/HP WebOS is the best smart phone OS, bar none. They just need to invest extra time and money in hardware and do a better job marketing the darn thing.

Hi, Neat post. There's a problem with your web site in web explorer, may test this? IE still is the marketplace leader and a big element of other folks will omit your great writing because of this problem.