LG shows off new smart TV interface featuring webOS

LG's 2014 smart TVs will have an interface based on the late Palm smartphone operating system.

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
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  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
2 min read

Confirming previous reports and leaks, today LG has announced an all-new operating system for its 2014 TVs.

It's called webOS, and it's based on the eponymous platform that initially appeared in Palm smartphones, like the Palm Pre, CNET's pick for the best product of CES 2009. HP aquired Palm in 2010, and LG bought webOS from HP last year.

The supposed main advantage of using a smartphone operating system like webOS is that it's designed for multitasking. LG says users will be able to swap directly between Netflix and Hulu Plus, for example or Netflix and cable TV, without having to go back to a home page.

The original WebOS was based on a series of "cards" or apps which could be manipulated through touch. While LG has kept the card concept it has transformed each "card" into tabs which line the bottom of the screen. Each tab features an icon depicting an app with popular favorites like Netflix and Hulu Plus accounted for.

Obviously touch isn't convenient when the TV is 8 feet away, so LG says its adapted interface was optimized for "lean-back" (couch viewing) using the company's Magic Motion remote--one of CNET's favorite clickers. LG contrasted the experience with the "lean-forward" archetype of using a Google TV keyboard.

The capabilities of webOS will be very similar to LG's previous Smart TV offerings. It will include LG's "recommendation engine" which is a searchable all-in-one repository for off-air programming and streaming content. The smart TV interface will be able to control a cable box--though it still won't be able to "see" what's on the DVR--and will incorporate a searchable program guide. The Magic Motion remote that ships with each of the smart TVs also features an integrated IR blaster, as opposed to the separate IR blaster used by Samsung's 2013 Smart TVs, for example.


Late in 2013 LG's Smart TV platform came under fire for allegedly transmitting viewing and file information back to the mothership, even when a user opts out of the "Collection of watching info" menu item. For 2014, LG says the opt out will function properly.

Like Android, webOS is based on Linux and is ostensibly an open source platform, meaning theoretically anyone can design apps for it.

Look out for a hands-on with LG's smart TV interface in the coming days as part of our CES coverage.