While unofficially upgrading the Pre and Pre Plus to webOS 2.0 (via the webOS Internals’ meta-doctor project) is nothing new, progress stalled out at webOS version 2.1. Since then, webOS 2.2 has provided significant security and stability patches, which the Pre and Pre Plus have not matched.
Within the past few weeks, the webOS Internals community has taken apart the latest webOS 2.2.4 releases for newer devices, and backported it to the Palm Pre Plus and original Palm Pre.
webOS 2.2.4 was recently released for the HP Pre 3 and GSM unlocked versions of the Palm Pre 2. It has not been officially released for the AT&T Veer 4G or Verizon Wireless version of the Palm Pre 2. Many believe it may never be; both would require testing and approval from AT&T and Verizon, respectively. Both carriers appear to have abandoned webOS, in terms of software support. AT&T actually went as far as to force thousands of finish (and AT&T branded) Pre 3 units onto the grey market, rather than allow them to be sold as part of HP’s webOS device fire sale. Pre 3 units in Europe were sold by HP at $75 each, sans contract.
The notes for this unsupported upgrade clearly caution (and we can’t emphasize enough) that this is not only unsupported firmware, but unfinished unsupported firmware. You should not update your phone to this unless you are okay with frequent device issues, including a bricked phone, that may not be able to place or receive calls.
The good news is that testing does show significant stability, and continues the notion that HP had zero legitimate basis for not offering webOS 2 for, at the very least, all Pre Plus devices. Patches to the 2.2.4 build already have taken into account bugs with preloaded apps, even the Amazon MP3 Store now works properly on a Pre Plus running 2.2.4.
Upgrading to webOS 2 is almost essential for continued use of the Palm Pre or Pre Plus, at this point. webOS 188.8.131.52, the last official build for all first-generation webOS devices in the United States (including Pre and Pre Plus), has several known security issues. HP has only supported it by offering up an updated Maps application, which the company may have been contractually obligated to offer, as part of its migration from Google Maps to Bing Maps.
Ironically, AT&T still sells the Palm Pixi Plus, a device HP acknowledges has serious and critical security issues that it has no intention of fixing. The Pixi and Pixi Plus cannot be updated to webOS 2 at this time, due to HP not providing/leaking necessary enabler files. HP claims the Pixi and Pixi Plus are not powerful enough to run webOS 2, a statement many in the hacking community dispute. HP made the same statement about Pre and Pre Plus, only to have to later admit it was false. HP ultimately blamed carriers in the United States for not “requesting” the webOS 2 firmware update on Pre and Pre Plus.
AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint have all declined previous opportunities to comment from PhoneNews.com on the webOS 2 upgrade situation regarding their devices. HP did recently affirm that Verizon Wireless Palm Pre 2 units would continue to receive webOS updates, a topic Verizon did not return an answer on when we asked them directly.
It is widely believed that HP kickstarted the webOS 2 unofficial upgrade effort internally. Recent reports have shown constant feuding and disarray within the webOS Global Business Unit at HP, which ultimately led to the initial downfall of the platform. webOS 2 was leaked for the Pre Plus via an update to the European GSM version of the Pre Plus, providing the enabler files necessary to compile a version of webOS 2 for the Pre and Pre Plus in the United States. The webOS Internals group was able to combine the CDMA files from webOS 1.4.5, and transpose them onto the European GSM’s firmware. Additional evidence for this stems from HP pulling back on offering the update shortly after release, and even going as far as to confirm that they would not even issue bug fix releases for the upgrade.
Since then webOS Internals has turned much of its attention to the HP Touchpad, creating firmware builds that even support unreleased devices, such as the seven-inch TouchPad Go. Firmware have also been released for the never-launched TouchPad 4G, a version of the 10.1-inch TouchPad that featured an AT&T HSPA+ radio.
The development of webOS 2.2.4 for the Pre and Pre Plus does show one thing quite clearly; there remains an active and vibrant webOS community that is anxiously awaiting the release of the webOS source code from HP… as well as a strategic development path from HP going forward, for the platform. We’ve chimed in on that recently with our two cents.