iPhone X and iOS 11 are the future built on the forgotten legacy of WebOS

'It is simple, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold, you will see the horizontal carousel of the recent apps.'

If you think I was talking about the iPhone X presentation from September 12, then the joke is on you. I was referring to the launch of Palm Pre and its WebOS , way back in 2009, when multitasking was far from reality on an iPhone. In fact, it is surprising and saddening to know that Palm, a company that no longer exists, figured it all out years before the mighty Apple could.




The history of consumer technology is full of such stories, that teaches us, creating the best alone won't guarantee success. One can find testimonies from the early Xerox Star and Alto, NeXT's Unix software environment, to Palm's WebOS. Innovators aren't necessarily the winners all the time.

Palm, then under the leadership of Jon Rubinstein, who was part of the original iPhone team, had high hopes for the WebOS and its innovative user interface pioneered by a young designer called Matias Duarte. The Palm Pre, in 2009, had a unified email inbox, multiple synchronized calendars, unified social media and contact management, well-designed notification system and wireless charging - something Apple implemented only this year.

Since the time iOS went serious face lift under Jony Ive to resurge as iOS 7, to the introduction of latest swipe gestures and stacked card multitasking screen on iOS 11, we are constantly being reminded how far ahead of its time WebOS really was.

It is no wonder that in an interview with Fierce Wireless , Rubinstein said "some of the UI features introduced by the Palm Pre and the webOS that powered it has lived on and are now being incorporated into Apple's own software".

He went on, "If you look at the notifications on Mac OS X, it looks just like webOS, too. We did a lot of things that were very, very innovative. Obviously, multitasking, notifications, Synergy, how we handled the multiple cards. There's a long list of stuff we did that has been adopted by Microsoft, Apple and Android."

Despite WebOS' many innovations, some of which still remain unequaled today, the mobile operating system was hindered by the lack of investment in hardware from Palm, something Apple had in abundance. "Not having as much cash also meant that Palm's hardware lagged behind competitors whose bigger budgets enabled them to release hardware quicker'", writes Matthew Sheffield on Salon .

WebOS, now under the ownership of LG, powering smart TV's and other home appliances, had left its legacy across both iOS and Android. In fact, Matias Duarte, currently the head of the user interface design at Google and creator of material design language for Android, has integrated many of the core design components of WebOS into Android.

It is easy to wonder, how it would have been, only if Palm had a better hardware, as "WebOS was brilliant, much better than the hardware.And vastly better than the marketing or launch execution of the Pre. And that was sad.," noted veteran technology journalist Walt Mossberg on Twitter recently. In a way, iPhone X's and iOS 11's user interface is a big tribute the once innovative WebOS.