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Developing on an Unactivated Device

Developing on an Unactivated Device

The best way to develop for the HP webOS platform is on a device activated with one of HP's carrier partners, which enables you to test your apps in an environment that matches your users' environment in every way.

However, we recognize that some developers may wish to develop for webOS without committing to a contract for carrier service. You can of course use the emulator included in the webOS SDK, but the emulator does not support all webOS features, and there's no substitute for testing your app on real hardware.

This page describes how you can enable an unactivated device for development. To do so, you'll download and run a tool that bypasses the activation process and the standard "first use" experience.

Limitations of Unactivated Devices 

There are several limitations on devices that have skipped activation and first use:

  • Over-the-air (OTA) software updates are not available. Each time you update the OS, you will need to re-flash the device with a new webOS Doctor, then run the activation-bypass tool again.
  • Phone and SMS functionality won't work. The webOS APIs for launching the Phone and Messaging apps will work (and the Messaging app can be used for instant messaging), but calls and text messages will not work.
  • Likewise, carrier data services will not be available. You'll need to configure your device for WiFi and rely on WiFi for access to Internet data sources. The Mobile Hotspot application will not function.
  • The device will not be linked to a Palm Profile. Any accounts you've configured (for email, contacts, calendar, etc.) will need to be recreated each time you re-flash the device.
  • App Catalog content will not be available. You will be able to launch the App Catalog client on the device, but you won't see any apps.
  • To develop and test against the webOS Location Services APIs, you'll need to enable Location Services (these are usually enabled during first use, but can be enabled separately by running the Location Services app from the webOS Launcher). Note that GPS fixes will generally be slower than on an activated device due to the lack of Assisted GPS (A-GPS), which requires carrier network connectivity.

Before You Start: To Doctor, or Not to Doctor?

The activation-bypass tool does not update or check the version of webOS on your device, and there's no easy way to know what version of webOS is installed on an unactivated device. If you want to be sure that you're running the latest version of webOS, you can use the most recent webOS Doctor to flash your device before running the tool.

That said, webOS Doctor takes considerably longer to run than the activation-bypass tool, so you may choose to run the tool first. If it turns out that you need to flash your device with webOS Doctor after all, you'll just need to run the activation-bypass tool again after running webOS Doctor.

Instructions for running webOS Doctor, running the activation-bypass tool, and booting your device into "recovery mode" (a prerequisite for either tool) are provided in the following sections. 

Booting into Recovery Mode

To flash a device with a webOS Doctor or to run the activation-bypass tool, you must first boot the device into recovery mode by performing the following steps:

  1. Plug the USB cable into your computer. Do not connect the other end to your device yet.
  2. Remove the battery from the device.
  3. Hold down the device's volume up button.
  4. Insert the USB cable into the device.
  5. Re-insert the battery.
  6. Release the volume up button.

The device will boot into recovery mode, and you will see the USB logo on the device's screen. At this point, you may run either the webOS Doctor (to flash your device with the latest version of webOS) or the activation-bypass tool (to enable your unactivated device for development).

Flashing Your Device with webOS Doctor 

The latest released webOS Doctors are available from palm.com/rom. webOS Doctors are available for each device/carrier pair that HP supports; you should get the one matching your device and the carrier for which it was intended. You will need to provide your device's serial number in order to download webOS Doctor from palm.com.

webOS Doctors for unreleased webOS versions are made available as needed through the HP Palm Developer Beta programs.

  1. Get webOS Doctor from http://palm.com/rom, or from a HP Palm developer Beta program.
  2. Boot your device into recovery mode, as described above.
  3. Run webOS Doctor.

Running the Activation-Bypass Tool

The activation-bypass tool is a Java application. To use the tool, you need to have installed Java and the latest webOS SDK (which includes the Novacom driver).

  1. Download the activation-bypass tool, which is available here, and save it in the location of your choice.
  2. Boot your device into recovery mode, as described above.
  3. Run the activation-bypass tool from the command line by issuing the following command: java -jar devicetool.jar

The device will reboot. Once the device is booted, it will be in developer mode, and the first use procedure will not be required. The device will be ready to use, subject to the limitations of non-activation.

webOS 2.0 and 3.0 Devices

The activation-bypass tool is not needed for webOS 2.0 or 3.0 devices. 

  1. Go to the phone app. 
  2. On a GSM phone, press "#*DEVMODE#", followed by the call button. On a CDMA phone or the HP TouchPad, press "##DEVMODE#", followed by the call button. (If the device is GSM, and there is no SIM card, a screen may be displayed instructing you to install one. Just begin typing the "#*" and the phone app will appear.)
  3. The Developer Mode scene will be displayed.
  4. Select "On". You will be prompted to re-boot the device.

Note that the DEVMODE code is only for unactivated devices. It provides a way of bypassing activation and first use, and putting the device into developer mode at the same time.

If you are using an activated device, from card view (that is, no apps active), type the following (from the TouchPad, click in the Just Type area to bring up the virtual keyboard):




Alternatively, you can use:




The "Developer Mode" app will come up. Toggle Developer Mode to "On". The app will dim for a moment, and then Developer Mode will be set.


Activating Your Device

If you wish to activate a device that you've been using as an unactivated development device, simply re-flash it with the latest webOS Doctor and contact the carrier to request activation. 

Getting Help

If you have trouble flashing your device with webOS Doctor, bypassing activation, or using your device for development, please visit us on the HP webOS Developer Center forums to request support.