There's been quite a bit of misunderstanding about what Palm's new WebOS is, versus what it isn't. So I'd like to dispel some of the questions surrounding it from the information I've been able to find on it. There isn't much I was able to find (not surprising, as the thing was just announced today), but we can draw some conclusions from the information.
From Web Apps to Widgets
The Mojo Framework
WebOS applications are much more sophisticated than Dashboard widgets, and certainly more so than regular web applications. This is because WebOS includes a set of tools for creating apps, called the Palm Mojo Application Framework. This, at its highest level, is conceptually similar to Cocoa Touch on the iPhone; it provides common functionality to all applications. It's what will provide all the common code on the device, from data manipulation of stuff like your calendars to the whizzy animation effects you'll see throughout the interface. It's the reason that, in most iPhone apps, the scrolling behavior feels exactly the same.
- apps are installed and run on the device,
- apps are designed to be multitasked and run in the background,
- apps have full access to gestures and the touch screen,
- apps can use a Growl-esque system to display user notifications,
- apps will have access to sqlite databases for data storage (part of HTML5), and
- apps can exchange data via a common messaging mechanism.
The Performance Argument