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The latest update of Preware (now at version 1.3.6)  allows users to install an application directly from a web URL, email attachment, or even from a file stored locally on the device itself.  This was a feature that was native to webOS back as far as version 1.0 -- it was used in the very early days of the webOS homebrew scene to deploy applications in lieu of an official Software Developer Kit -- but Palm plugged what could have been a potential exploit in subsequent releases.  Besides installing applications directly from email and website URLs, users can also use the excellent Neato! app to send links directly into Preware from the desktop, similar to Palm's own send-to-phone feature.

Also included in the update is the ability to configure webOS to recognize Preware as the default application in handling the installation of apps from outside sources, a host of security conscious dialogs and prompts that are displayed to users when installing applications and changing file associations (It's always recommended, of course, that you only install software from trusted feeds and trusted developers) and a good handful of bug fixes and performance optimizations.

When asked why webOS Internals went ahead with implementing this feature in the Preware thread in the webOS Internals forum, founder Rod Whitby noted that since Palm effectively changed its security model with the rollout of webOS 1.4.0, the group was unable to maintain package security how they had in the past. Rather than allow folks to "have a false sense of security", the change was made in order to best "educate the homebrew community against rogue attacks".

This is all very slick stuff, as this added functionality makes the "sideloading" of apps in webOS one of the easiest endeavors of all of the mobile platforms. If you dig the work of the webOS Internals group don't be shy about sending them a donation.

And for those who are new to the world of homebrew, be sure to check out our getting started with homebrew guide and take look at the possibilities of device customization and performance enhancements made available by programs like Preware.

Discussion: PreCentral Forums