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webOS 1.4 bugs

We’ve been working on this one for several days now, but it seems that every time we’ve got it ready, a new bug crops up and we have to do some revising. Enough is enough, we say, it’s time to put this out there. We’ve already covered the confusing, inconvenient, and frustrating Daylight Savings Time bug that many webOS users have run into; now is the time to look at what other new problems have afflicted Pre and Pixi phones across the world. There surprisingly, and somewhat disappointingly, a lot of stuff to point out. While not everybody is experiencing any or all of the issues listed after the break, we’ve heard from enough of you (and seen some of these problems ourselves) that we know there are some distinct issues out there. It’s a wordy list, as we are wont to do, so if you’re interested in finding out if you’re not alone in your glitchy nature, head past the break for the scoop.

While some of the bugs are being experienced by many, and others by comparatively few, none are as crippling as this first one: Wi-Fi works, but EVDO doesn’t. Prior to webOS 1.4, users could jump back and forth from Wi-Fi networks to EVDO coverage. Now some are being hit with every indication that EVDO is working after jumping from Wi-Fi, except for the whole actually downloading and uploading bits and bytes of data part. The only way to get EVDO running again is to open the Phone app, go to Preferences, and hit the Update Network Settings button. Every time.

Something that will affect all users, however, are changes to the way the web browser works. While it scores much higher on the Acid3 test, compatibility with at least several websites appears to have been lost. You win some, you lose some, as the saying goes. That said, we’d prefer that better standards support didn’t break websites - especially fairly standard ones like Chase Mobile banking.

Another issue that many have seen is with volume change notifications. Strangely, when opening and closing the slider on Pre phones the screen sometimes displays a freaking-out changing volume notification, often flipping over to the music icon instead of the speaker (even if no music is playing). Or it just does it randomly while sitting there, as this video by forum member MSB demonstrates. Even more frightening is the theory that this is yet another hardware problem that was revealed by the webOS update: some forum members are reporting that the glitchiness is temporarily cured by toggling the volume switch, removing the battery door, plugging in and removing a pair of headphones, or (gulp) smacking the phone in the volume keys.

Alongside the changes to the web browser, there’s another error that we can guarantee every webOS user is staring in the face: the camera app is overwriting photos and videos. For whatever reason, the camera app is not paying attention to what files are already on the phone and overwrites anything that has the next file name (e.g. CIMG0065.jpg) instead of skipping it like it should. Strangely, some have even seen the camera app reset to an earlier filename number and overwrite files repeatedly. Thankfully there is at least one solution to this problem, and it comes in the form of patches from our own Jason Robitaille.

While webOS 1.4 improved speed and battery life for most (a few have experienced the exact opposite), stability for many seems to have taken a hit. Many have reported that their phones reset far more often than usual, with some experiencing resets multiple times a day. The “too many cards” error also seems to be appearing more often, despite the improved JavaScript garbage collection implemented with the update.

Those are just the major issues. Reports in the forums indicate that a number of other things have also gone awry for some webOS 1.4 users:

  • The Rebel SIM pseudo-unlocker no longer works.
  • Forward swipe (gesture area) has disappeared.
  • When working hard the gradient clock background doesn’t overlay on the lock screen.
  • Pinch to zoom no longer works in Doc View or PDF View.
  • The web browser no longer can display images greater than one megapixel.
  • Email sometimes launches to the ‘add an account screen’ (as if on first launch).
  • Wi-Fi now drains faster than EVDO, even when idle.

Of course, we should stress that the majority of users have not encountered most of the issues (with the exception of the camera overwrite, web browser changes, missing forward swipe, browser image size, and multi-touch in Doc and PDF View). If you have, the standard course of repair is to reboot your phone, remove all patches, and perform a WebOS Doctor (checking between each step to see if the problem’s been fixed). While we can’t guarantee that doing so will correct your problems, it’s still worth a shot if the issues are proving too frustrating for your day-to-day use.

This does bring to mind the question of whether or not webOS 1.4 was ready for primetime. Palm took the unusual step of committing to a specific timeframe (end of February) for the release of webOS 1.4, and with all the bad news that came out at the end of last month had no choice but to meet that deadline. It was either that, or face a brutal backlash from an increasingly antsy userbase and press corps. While we can’t ever verify if webOS 1.4 was delayed from the first-rumored date of February 15 (we still trust our sources), with the shape that the update came in we wouldn’t be surprised if that was in fact the case.

All we know is this: we wouldn’t be upset if webOS 1.4.1 arrived in the near future and was just full of bug fixes. We’re hearing rumblings that it is on its way - hopefully sooner rather than later.

Thanks to, well, everybody in our forums and all of you that sent in reports.