Apple Was Going to Use Palm WebOS-style Widgets for iPhone in 2007, Abandoned Idea Due to Performance

As part of the commentary on Jamie Zawinski leaving the Palm Pre for the iPhone (linked in the previous post), Daring Fireball adds:

Apple had a similar idea to WebOS for the iPhone, where certain apps would run as Dashboard-style widgets, written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Apple abandoned the idea in the six months between the iPhone’s January 2007 announcement and when it went on sale at the end of June, concluding that performance for such apps was unacceptable and that they should go native Cocoa across the board. And Apple was only going to do it for small apps, like Weather, Stocks, and Calculator, not the flagship apps like Calendar and Mail.

Of course, web technologies have improved since 2007, especially JavaScript rendering. Usability and performance complaints aside, Palm embracing web developers in order to incentivize adoption of their platform was a smart strategy. Still, it's interesting to see Apple's reaction to it back then, and their decision to go 100% native. (Especially considering they're now being criticized for not having widgets).

Did Apple make the right choice, do we still want widgets on the iPhone, or is HTML5 and SQLite ?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.