Way back in 2012 we were introduced to OpenMobile, a company working to build what they called an "Application Compatibility Layer" for running Android apps on Open webOS. They've demonstrated it running in the webOS emulator, but what about on a real live functioning device? That's been elusive. And at CES 2013 we stopped by OpenMobile's booth, only to find no sign of the webOS ACL. Despite the dreams and wishes of many, we wrote off the ACL as not coming back. With webOS now open source and the property of LG and a release on mobile hardware that could run those Android apps looking less likely, why bother with the investment to finish the work?
But in 2013 we're looking a strange confluence of sites and services and people. The webOS movement hasn't died, and thanks groups like Phoenix International Communications there's even the possibility it could see a resurgence. And while they're working on building Open webOS for Android, they're not stopping there. Today Phoenix announced that they've paired up with OpenMobile to resurrect the ACL for the TouchPad.
In a four-minute video on Kickstarter (also after the break) they lay out the case for the ACL on TouchPad. In short: because they want to and they think you want to as well. Thus the Kickstarter campaign. In addition, the video shows off the ACL in action on a TouchPad. Essentially it allows the installation of Android apps as discrete apps on on webOS, including individual apps. There's certainly a bit of OS shock in that Android apps running under the ACL are in essence running a window of Android, complete with back/home/menu buttons at the bottom of the screen and the Android keyboard. The set-up actually is quite similar to what OpenMobile is doing for the Meego-based Sailfish OS, down to the Android 2.3 core to the ACL.
Phoenix has turned to Kickstarter to crowdsource the financing needed to finish the ACL for webOS. They're seeking $35,000 by 23 May 2013, with a touch over $1500 having already been pledged at publish time. As this is on Kickstarter, Phoenix won't get any of the money unless the $35,000 goal is reached by the deadline - if they can't reach it, they get none of the pledged funding. And, as this is Kickstarter, there are several levels of backer rewards, from a copy of the ACL for a $30 pledge to beta testing access for $250 to a trip to New York City for dinner with the leadership of Phoenix for a $5000 commitment (along with the ACL on a CD, a certificate of appreciation, two Phoenix t-shirts, and an LED flashlight keychain).
If Phoenix is able to reach that funding goal, they're anticipating having the OpenMobile ACL complete and available by July. Seeing how the ACL is running its current state on the TouchPad, that goal might not be too ambitious.
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