Within hours of a leaked WebOS root image spilling onto the internet, would-be developers have coaxed a respectable number of hacks and tweaks out of their Presā€”including the phone's first homebrew app.

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Their accomplishments are modest in the grand scheme of things, but this is an auspicious start:

My first application works!! I'm so excited! It's just a pretty "hello world" application with a few simple command tests - but hey - it's a working application on the pre!

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Other mini-hacks include changing vibration length and intervals, adding a shot timer to the camera and eliminating its shutter sound. The early consensus, it seems, is that the Pre is an easy hack.

Notice anything familiar here? This is a lot like what happened with the first iPhone, which shipped without native app support, leaving prospective developers to toil with lame web appsā€”sort of like what's been outlined in upcoming the WebOS SDK. That situation spawned a productive homebrew community, which is still alive and kicking today. From the looks of it, the Pre will have a burgeoning underground app gray market before its SDK even gets distributed.

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Granted, Palm will grant developers appreciably more leeway than Apple's initial web-only approach, allowing for local storage and tighter system integration, but system-level mods, like the aforementioned changes to the camera and vibration functions, aren't on the table. Follow the thread for moreā€”it's fascinating stuff. [Precentral]