by Derek Kessler on 12/31/2012 | Filed Under: News; Tags: homebrew, Open webOS, WebOS Ports, port, LibHybris, morphis. Nexus 7, FreeSmartphone, Merproject, SHR Porject | 47 comments
As if the Samsung Galaxy Nexus Open webOS port wasn't enough, WebOS Ports has announced a new porting project: Open webOS on the Google Nexus 7. The seven-inch Android-powered tablet built by Asus was the premiere launch devices for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and thanks to the open source and open hardware nature of the device, it is the perfect fit for WebOS Ports's next porting adventure.
Seeing how much we loved the small seven-inch TouchPad Go, it's no surprise that the equally small Nexus 7 tablet was on the radar of WebOS Ports. Though larger, the 1280x800 screen on the Nexus 7 is close enough in pixel dimensions to the 1280x720 screen on the Galaxy Nexus, so a lot of the work put into the smartphone project could be easily translated to the Nexus 7.
How easy? This work was led by WebOS Ports's Simon "morphis" Busch over the course of about a week while he was on winter break from college. The port was accomplished with the Galaxy Nexus project in conjunction with LibHybris, created by Carsten Munk (an engineer at Jolla, though he also leads Merproject, which grew out of Sailfish ancestors Maemo and Meego), a library that allows for "bionic-based [Android] hardware adaptations in glibc systems", in essence making it easier to translate between the designed-for-Android hardware and Linux-based software like the Open webOS operating system. This means that with LibHybris the WebOS Ports team won't have to write drivers from scratch for different Android-based devices they might wish to attack. In addition to LibHybris, the Nexus 7 leverages the work of those involved in Merproject, FreeSmartphone, and SHR Project.
A video of the port in action is after the break, and as an early alpha we're rather impressed. Open webOS on the Nexus 7 runs generally smoothly (there's some intermittent and infrequent lag, which isn't anything too surprising at this stage) and has improved considerably from our last look at Open webOS on the Galaxy Nexus. In addition there's now an Enyo 2-based Settings app that allows you to toy with things like the Wi-Fi and brightness settings and the new OWO Memos app (also Enyo 2 based). The port also supports the classic webOS tablet keyboard, the made-for-the-Galaxy-Nexus virtual gesture area, and forward-swipe-driven screen rotation. Essentially, it's like webOS on the TouchPad Go, except on the slimmer, lighter, faster, newer Nexus 7 and more open source-y.
Oh, and did we mention that it runs untethered now? Yeah, it does that. Being able to use Open webOS on the device without being hooked up to your computer is a big deal, and we're really quite psyched to see that happen. You still have to boot from a desktop, but after that you can unplug the cable and get on with the webOSing.
The Nexus 7 Open webOS port is still in its early stages, but thanks to the work done on the Galaxy Nexus port it's come a long way in a relatively short time. We're looking forward to what's coming next.