Supercharge Your New HP TouchPad With PreWare

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

Turn on your TouchPad and press the home button. Tap the "just type" area and enter 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

Switch to your computer and download the latest version of Jason Robitaille's WebOS Quick Install. It's a Java app, so you'll need an up-to-date version of Java, but it should work equally well for both Windows and OS X.

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.

Standard homebrew apps are on the "Applications" tab. Quality fluctuates across the 200+ entries, but there's a lot of worthy apps there, and it's all free. "Patches" is a great collection of advanced software tweaks that WebOS users have put together over the last few years. Just click "Install" underneath the description area to apply a patch. Two of the patches you'll absolutely want to implement are "Remove Dropped Packet Logging" and "Muffle System Logging", which cut down on the intensive back-end tech support services and should give you a noticeable speed boost.

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.

This post originally appeared on Michael's personal blog.

Michael Crider is a freelance web writer. You can check out his regular posts on Screen Rant, follow him on Twitter (@MichaelCrider) or visit his personal blog.


Comments

    Thankyou LH for writing about this!! People itching to put Android (for some weird reason) on your TouchPad, take a look at PreWare first. If you're gonna put a non-manufacturer-supported, homebrewed Android copy on, it'd be much easier to go for something homebrewed for webOS itself.

    Preware is very well developed, very professional, and approved by Palm.

    BTW, if you want to do it the FUN way, instead of "webos20090606", type in "upupdowndownleftrightleftrightbastart".

    I'm quite surprised you didn't mention the Konami code in the article.

      Looks like the one I bought for my wife is going to keep it's original OS after all!

        It seems that both of those don't work on the latest version of webOS. The other way to do it is open the phone and dialer app, and then in the dialer dial ##DEVMODE# (or ##3386633#)and then call. This then opens the developer mode options

          bugger, really? Disappointed to hear they dropped the konami code.

      I'm not sure preware is approved by Palm, as you have to jailbreak the device to be able to install them.

        there is no jailbreak for webos. you type in a code to use developer mode. There's no 'hack' no 'breaking'. Palm has a good relationship with the developers of Preware, as does/did HP, even donating servers to Preware developers to encourage development.

        You've been spending too long living in iWorld :P

          I guess my assumption that using a 3rd party unapproved Java app to allow installations, and then using apps that have not been approved by HP (and are not available through their own channels) was jailbreaking.

          I think the only difference is it does not void the warranty, like that other company.

            I suppose that means windows users and osx users jailbreak constantly, then? If the definition is installing programs that don't come from the manufacturer.

            Like i said. iWorld. ;)

    Anyone know where you can get the Touchpad Case? The HP Online site in Australia have removed any references to the tocuhpad.

      Ordered a case from Ebay.

        I had a look at Ebay, but all the cases there appear to be knock off's from Hong Kong, how is your case?

      I got my official case from B&H in USA and received it yesterday. But it appears they are 'temporarily out of stock'. Maybe you should request the notification when its in stock just in case it comes back.

      http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/796371-REG/HP_Hewlett_Packard_FB343AA_AC3_Case_Stand_for_HP_TouchPad.html

      Stock case is great if anyone is wondering. Great quality. Shame no one sells left handed cases that open to the right.

    I have found the apps useful for minor tweaks (and overclocking), but the selection of apps is woefully thin on the ground. The bulk of the apps are designed for the wee pre screens.

    I would highly recommend turning off the logging (retaining error logs) as suggested in the article - as HP aren't going to support the hardware, the logs aren't much use to most people. I found this made a substantial difference to the usability of the device.

    Personally, I am looking forward to Android and the availablity of apps that that entails.

    Basically, if HP *does* completely drop webOS (which it has said it *won't*, and is still providing updates), preware is webOS's future.

    More $99 Touchpads in a few weeks.. just not for Australia.

    http://goo.gl/55Sxs

    You can bet I'll be asking the in-laws (Stateside) to snag a couple and send them over to us.

    Thanks for this. I've seen reference to it elsewhere, but it looked exceedingly complicated on other sites.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted

    it asks for a password, what is the novacom password please?

    so I buy a .99c AlphaCards app (flash cards)
    but it doesn't work right... runs with the installed four groups of cards... but when I go to search a web site for hundreds more sets of info people downloaded the program won't let me type in!! I has the Palm smaller outline so it was meant for the phone...

    Does anyone know how to get around this sort of issue? Figure it probably applies to other converted apps..

    thanks

    when trying to install pre ware, novacom is looking for a password for edit mode. I have no password. How do I get past this and install?

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