You may recall the excitement preceeding LG’s press conference last year. There was some hope that if webOS was a success as smart television interface, it might yet return to mobile devices produced by a quality manufacturer.
The last year has proven LG’s faith in it’s new acquisition, with general acclaim from the critics and impressive sales figures. It can be said that LG’s version of webOS for televisions has achieved all that LG hoped for.
2014 also brought us sneak peaks of webOS apparently being tested on a Nexus 5 and a website inviting programmers to develop for an LG webOS smart watch – before The Verge noticed and the site got pulled. It seems clear that LG is experimenting with many things behind the scenes. The possibility of a webOS phone seems very slim, but the possibility of a webOS watch? That was pretty much official… until it wasn’t.
What did we know?
We knew there would be a new, faster webOS 2.0 on TVs. We knew it would not be arriving on TVs manufactured in 2014. That’s about it.
The video is here if you want to watch. LG webOS TV is about 9 minutes in.
Mr Scott Ahn, LG’s president & CTO was back as last year. It got interesting as he spoke about the internet of things. LG’s plan is to facilitate our lives with greater device connectivity and integration. As an example of that, he talked about the deployment of webOS on TVs. Well a TV is only one thing, so the implication is that webOS could be deployed to other things. If that is a straw you wish to grasp, feel free to do so, but I’m afraid that is all you will be getting for now.
Things are looking good for webOS TV, though what stood out in the presentation of Mr Tim Alessi was LG’s new hardware: The quality of OLED and the use of quantum dot technology on LCD screens. There were new streaming content partnerships with the channel of action camera maker Go Pro, DirectTV and Youtube. Partnerships with Amazon instant video and Netflix continue with the latter now providing an official endorsement of viewing quality. LG will be releasing 7 models of 4K OLED TV from 55″ to 77″. 60% of LCD sets will have 4K resolution and range from 43″ to 105″ in size.
For webOS itself, the announcements were known before the presentation. LG webOS 2.0 will boot up 60% quicker and switch inputs 70% faster. Connected devices will be automatically recognised and settings can be adjusted without interrupting the programme. Mr Alessi announced that most future webOS TVs will ship with quad-core or better processors and this may well be the reason for the hint of bad news for current users: LG webOS 2.0 will not be delivered to the current line of television sets. The speed increase is likely due at least in part, to improved hardware.
The announcement of an update only for new models has caused some consternation. As TVs begin to resemble computers more and more, users begin to expect updates: fixes for bugs, protection against hacking, optimisation and even new features and services. Of course, updates and new features may well be delivered to existing users (if not the speed increases), but as everyone using technology today knows, if there is an upgrade and you can’t have it, your product may remain useful and have a good lifespan, but the beginning of it’s end has already been marked. If the future is bright for LG webOS TV, let us hope it is not darkened by the disappointment of customers whose systems are only months old.
As far as I could tell, all the LG speakers were wearing LG G watch Rs – the current flagship, but it was only really featured in a video about LG’s attempts to offer the internet of things both in and outside the home. No doubt it will have apps developed with the connectSDK and also integrate with the Homechat system announced last year. There was no announcement of new watches or what system they might be running. (Update: webOS Smart watch spotted.)
There was only one: The LG G flex 2. This is the successor to the curved G flex of last year. The demo was impressive with a snapdragon 810 chip, ‘self-healing’ back, 1080p HD 5.5″ display and strengthened glass. Unsurprisingly, the G flex 2 runs Android Lollipop.
That was about it. Though I was also impressed by LG’s washers and refrigerators, they are entirely irrelevant to the focus of this site. It is worth noting that although a new range of TV’s was launched at CES, there was only one phone announcement. Many are flocking to launch products in the new smart watch market and it remains to be seen what forms, capabilities and interfaces will dominate. LG announced nothing new here, so the coming year has space in two areas that might be of interest to webOS aficionados.