Web Culture

HP TouchPad Update: More Things To Do With Your WebOS Tablet

Tim Brookes 15-06-2012

hp webos tabletCall me stubborn, but I have yet to install Android How To Install Android Ice Cream Sandwich On The HP TouchPad In Minutes As slick, smooth and functional as webOS is on the HP TouchPad, and wherever the future of the platform may lie, there remains a problem – the shortage of apps. The fact remains that there... Read More on my HP TouchPad. Despite being a fan of WebOS in general, I use my tablet almost exclusively for browsing the Web and this is a task that the OS handles fairly well. I don’t need thousands of apps or a custom launcher and I can’t be bothered with the uninstall process.


It’s true that WebOS is stagnating, less and less apps appear on the official HP App Catalog 5 Essential App Cataloging Apps For Your HP TouchPad I’ll be brutally honest - there really aren’t an awful lot of apps available to those who picked up a cheap HP TouchPad in the firesale a few weeks ago. It’s undoubtedly one of the... Read More and there are fewer patches, tweaks and third-party apps turning up on Preware too. While you should not expect too much from the aging tablet, the old girl still has life in her yet.

Let’s take another look at some of the recent developments for WebOS and a few TouchPad apps that have eluded us in the past.

Add Proper Arrow Keys To The Keyboard

Unless you’re using a Bluetooth keyboard, typing on the TouchPad can be a painful experience. HP neglected to provide proper cursor control, and precisely tapping where you would like the cursor to appear is pretty much an impossible task which often ends in frustration and swearing.

 hp webos tablet

Luckily thanks to the homebrew community there is a proper solution to this conundrum – arrow keys for your keyboard. There are a multitude of options, ideal for QWERTY, AZERTY and QWERTZ layouts which removes the requirement to clumsily poke at the screen to correct a spelling mistake or add a paragraph.


You’ll need a Preware’d TouchPad in developer mode to install. Download the appropriate .ZIP, extract and then use WebOS Quick Install to apply the patch.

View: Proper Arrow Keys on TouchPad Thread @ WebOSNation

Add GPS Functionality

The HP TouchPad does not include GPS functionality, so if you’ve been hoping to make use of the device as a location tool then you’ll find that it’s a bit limiting. Luckily it’s possible to pair the TouchPad via Bluetooth with an external GPS unit. Best of all these units are cheap and cheerful, and if you shop around you will pay around $15 for a small battery-powered device.

If you own a WebOS phone then you can also use an app called PreGO to share your device’s GPS capabilities with your TouchPad. PreGO is available via Preware – search, install and pair. Once you’ve got either an external GPS unit or a PreGO-enabled phone paired, use MapTool Pro to help find your way. Award yourself extra points for successfully mounting the TouchPad in your car.


Check out the video above for detailed steps to get MapTool Pro working with just about any Bluetooth GPS device.

Install Wi-Fi File Sharing

Wires are the bane of my life, and if you feel the same then you might like Wi-Fi File Sharing. If you use your WebOS tablet for eReading and comics, emulation, listening to music or watching videos then this has to be one of the best Preware downloads you can install.

hp webos

In order to get it working you’re going to need a couple of packages from Preware first. The first is Easy Samba and this, being a large package, can take a while to install. Be patient, even though it looks unresponsive while installing, it probably hasn’t crashed. The second package is Homebrew JS Service Framework which you may already have installed from previous packages.


Once you’ve got these, download Wi-Fi File Sharing from Preware, restart Luna (you’ll be asked to do so) and launch the app. Your TouchPad will show up as a writeable SMB network share, allowing you to transfer files minus a cable.

Grab Some New Apps

Despite stagnation, there are still some new developments in the world of WebOS apps. The following are fresh and noteworthy enough to try out:

Touchpad Text Editor (Preware, Free)

hp webos
A simple text editor, ideal for use with an external Bluetooth keyboard. It comes with a spellchecker and formats files according to the OS of your choice. Perfect for those who don’t need or value fancy text formatting!

AIOSettings (Preware, Free)

Tired of the settings menu being a scattered mess? Would you rather have one single UI from which to customize your tablet? AIOSettings (all-in-one settings) does just this.


ReadOnTouch Pro (App Catalog, $1.99)

hp webos
Fancy saving articles and webpages so you can read them offline, at your leisure? Try ReadOnTouch Pro, which has recently been updated to support images within articles. There’s also a free version if you would like to try before you buy.

MapTool Pro (App Catalog, $2.49)

Ideal for use with a GPS receiver (as mentioned) above, MapTool Pro uses maps from the free OpenStreetMap project and fully supports the offline downloading of maps so that you can travel anywhere and everywhere with a highly detailed map of your surroundings.

fTelnet (App Catalog, Free)

hp webos tablet
Why not use your TouchPad as a dedicated telnet terminal? It’s small, portable and fully compatible with Bluetooth keyboards (something you want if this appeals to you) plus the fTelnet app is completely free.

WebOSM (App Catalog & Preware, Free)

A completely free map viewer for the TouchPad that uses OpenStreetMap data. While the current version is compatible with some GPS units (any external Bluetooth unit with “GPS” in the name, or PreGO), WebOSM currently depends on a network connection for its maps (no offline download) so it’s a bit useless unless you are willing to tether your tablet to a 3G/4G device.

Saying that, the author is apparently working on offline support so it’s one to keep your eye on.


For now, the TouchPad is still receiving support and attention thanks to a dedicated WebOS community. If you have come across any novel uses for your tablet or any must-have apps you can’t put down then add your thoughts in the comments, below. Similarly, if you feel particularly strongly about whether or not Android is a must-have then have your say here.

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  1. George Gabriel
    November 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I know I am late with this question, however here goes.
    I have PreWare on my tablet and have repressed the logging/reporting. I have the tablet running at 1.7Ghz on both cores. Recently when I use the advanced web browser, streaming Pandora, the browser is really slow to respond. When I minimize it to a card instead of immediately snapping down, it is very sluggish.

    Any thoughts? Does the Touchpad need to be wiped and reloaded occasionally like a PC does?

    • George Gabriel
      November 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      Thanks Tina,
      I posted it.

  2. ckashy
    October 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Please help in getting subsonic app working on HP touchpad with ice cream sandwich.

    The app downloaded correctly( it seems) but cannot go to setting and get username and password window open.

    Get error

  3. Jonathan Blaine
    August 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    With recently new Preware app "USB Flash Mount OTG" it is now possible to connect any USB hard drive or Flash drive. I successfully connected my 2T external USB drive and got access through Internalz Pro. It is necessary to show hidden files in preferences to do so. You will need a Y cable that is necessary to provide power to the none power USB port on the Touchpad. Through several failed attempt the second day I discovered it is necessary to plug in the External drive and power source at the same time or it may not detect the drive. I transferred a 1 gig video and it took around 15 minutes or more which was pretty slow.

  4. Renee
    June 16, 2012 at 2:42 am

    FWIW, I'd recommend that you add Android to your HP Touchpad. You can always revert to WebOS, by rebooting. Only thing is, at least in my experience, you might have to wipe all the Preware fixes and downloads before the Android install.

    • Tim Brookes
      June 16, 2012 at 8:05 am

      Generally speaking I prefer WebOS. Sure it's dying a slow death but the OS is generally more to my tastes than Android. I don't need all the apps and custom launchers, just a web browser and an email client. WebOS already does this pretty well.

      I also don't really want the hassle of having to remove Android afterwards, I've seen a lot of people having trouble at that stage and it just doesn't seem worth it to me.

    • Blade
      June 16, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      I have a webOS TouchPad, a Android CM7 TouchPad, and a Android CM9 TouchPad, mostly because I'm a developer, but my girlfriend keeps rebooting the CM9 TouchPad to webOS, because CM9 is so damn difficult to figure out. (who thought it would be a good idea to hide Bluetooth pairing and WiFi configuration, such that you have to tap the notification area, then tap only the left hand side of the specific section that you want to bring up a generic settings menu, then select the device you want to change settings on, then the settings you want to change?)

      She uses it in CM9 for games, everything else is webOS. And since her laptop broke during our recent move, she's been using webOS almost exclusively for the last two months. I was talking about needing an Android phone for development purposes and she initially volunteered to "upgrade" her webOS phone so we could get it cheap, then she realized "wait, I hate using Android" :)

      Every now and then I've rebooted my webOS touchpad to android to try something that wouldn't work in webOS, only to find it didn't work in Android either. (looking directly at FedEx's online printing website .. grrr)

      • Tim Brookes
        June 17, 2012 at 12:56 am

        Nail on the head.

        Which WebOS phone does she have? Did you nab one of the cheap firesale Pre3s? I was tempted, it seems like a great phone OS, obviously limited in terms of apps but there's a lot of support from the community and a long list of Preware patches.

        Thanks for sharing!

        • Blade
          June 17, 2012 at 4:24 am

          She uses a Sprint Pre, I've got a ATT Pre3. I never would've bought a phone of this style, if I hadn't used webOS on the TouchPad to begin with, though. Once she's finished breaking her Pre, if the modem survives, I'll put it into this Pre2 that I picked up off a guy who decided to sell his TouchPad and Pre2 bundled together cheap when the hardware division got axed.

          I say "once she's finished breaking" because other than the LG dumbphone that she carried for 3 years, she breaks every other portable electronic i let her touch. Her first TouchPad cracked one day for no obvious reason, and her Pre has a chunk of it missing, we have no idea how.. and she's gone through three laptops in 6 years, all same problems where the ports all broke. ugh!

        • Tim Brookes
          June 17, 2012 at 6:00 am

          Did the TouchPad case crack near the speaker by any chance? It's a known issue, it's happened to mine and it's not your girlfriends fault if so!

          It doesn't seem to make much difference, I've not bothered getting mine fixed though I might do before the year's warranty is up.

        • Blade
          June 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm

          Yeah, she picked it up off the touchstone, we heard a "snap" sound, and a big chunk of plastic fell off. It appeared fine the night before, although there might've been some hairline cracks maybe. She got on with HP chat on it, and we had a replacement back by Thursday, we started on Monday. I was amazed.

        • Tim Brookes
          June 18, 2012 at 12:54 am

          Right well it looks like I'll me RMA'ing mine soon then!

  5. Blade
    June 15, 2012 at 3:39 am

    I have to mention XO, the Subsonic streamer. Yea, I wrote the webOS app, but it wasn't a must have for me until after I had already 3/4 built it at the prompting of other users. Now I use it every day :)