Many of you bargain hunters probably picked up the defunct HP TouchPad last week, and though webOS isn’t exactly thriving, that doesn’t mean you can’t do some pretty neat things with it. If you want to go deeper, here’s how to get extra functionality out of your TouchPad.
While there isn’t much in the way of Android-style custom ROMs (yet), users can install non-market apps and software patches from PreWare, a repository of webOS software maintained by PreWare.org. All it takes is a settings change on the TouchPad itself and a small Java program called WebOS Quick Install. It’s kind of like rooting or jailbreaking, but nowhere near as complex.
I put this guide together with a lot of help from the WebOS Internals Wiki and the PreCentral Touchpad forum, which incidentally is a great place for app and patch suggestions. Definitely head over there once you’re done setting up your Touchpad if you need more inspiration.
Step One: Activate Developer Mode
webos20090606. Tap the “Developer Mode” icon that appears. Tap the “on/off” slider in the top right corner of the next screen, but leave the “DEVELOPER MODE PASSWORD” field blank. Tap “Submit”.
Step Two: Install WebOS Quick Install
Step Three: Install Homebrew Apps & Patches
Plug your TouchPad into your computer with the included microUSB cable. It’s best to use the cable that came with the device; it seems pretty picky about third-party cables. You should also use a USB port directly on your computer, not a hub or extension cable. Do NOT press the “USB Drive” pop-up that appears.
Switch back to your computer and double-click the .jar file you downloaded. It’ll probably install some drivers for webOS hardware — just let it do its thing. When it’s finished, the Quick Install menu will appear. From this page you can manually install apps and packages. Click the globe icon on the right side (which looks like an old-school Palm HotSync icon — nice!) to open up a menu with all the PreWare apps and tweaks ready to install.
The apps and patches will download and install across the USB cable right away. When you’re finished, just unplug the cable. If you want to remove patches later, just repeat the above steps and click Tools > Device Management from the main Quick Install screen. Save the .jar file in a handy location for when you want to use it again. Advanced users can check out custom kernels for overclocking and a huge variety of Linux programs that run on the Touchpad.