HP has made a surprise announcement of a new Palm Pre smartphone running an updated version of the WebOS mobile platform acquired with the purchase of Palm earlier this year.
The Palm Pre 2 will be available from 22 October in France, and in the US and Canada in the coming months, HP said. No official date has been set for availability in the UK, an HP spokesperson told V3.co.uk.
HP also announced WebOS 2, a new version of the operating system that powers the phone, which will be made available to existing users at a later date.
The move is something of a surprise since HP has talked loudly about using WebOS in tablet devices since its acquisition of Palm, although the company had not ruled out producing further smartphones.
The Palm Pre 2 looks very similar to the first Pre, launched in 2009, with its 3.1in touch-screen and slide-out Qwerty keyboard, but adds a much faster 1GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera, glass screen and a more streamlined design.
WebOS 2 also adds numerous enhancements, according to HP, including a new way of logically grouping open apps called Stacks. Another addition is Exhibition, which supports applications that run only when the device is charging on its Touchstone dock, such as a slideshow of photos from the user's Facebook account.
HP also said that WebOS 2 supports a beta of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 in the browser, providing access to Flash-based web content such as movies.
The updated WebOS also extends support for Synergy so that developers can easily connect new data sources to the Messaging, Contacts and Calendar applications.
Other additions include the Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, with viewers for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, and greater support for more HTML5 features in the browser.
"With WebOS 2.0, we're advancing the innovations we introduced 16 months ago, expanding the features that make WebOS great for consumers, enterprises and developers," said Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president for the Palm Global Business Unit at HP.
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