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LG touts zoom, on-screen remote in upcoming Smart TVs

A new version of the WebOS software that powers the South Korean company's Smart TVs will add some "magic" to its 2016 lineup.

LG will try to lure consumers to its 2016 Smart TVs by offering newer and smarter software.
LG Electronics

This story is part of CES 2016. Our editors bring you complete CES 2016 coverage and scour the showroom floor for the hottest new tech gadgets around.

LG's 2016 Smart TVs will offer a host of new features courtesy of a software update.

The South Korea-based electronics company announced on Monday that it will unveil its 2016 Smart TV lineup at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month. Key to the new lineup will be an updated 3.0 version of LG's WebOS software, which viewers use to access channels, online content, apps and other features.

Consumers face a growing, even dizzying, array of options for electronic entertainment. Smart TVs have to compete for attention with Blu-ray devices, media players and gaming consoles. One way they do that is by offering access to apps, games, online programs and streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. That variety, though, means the interfaces for smart TVs are often confusing and clumsy to use. Through WebOS, LG has tried to offer a simpler way to control and tap into all the features of its Smart TVs.

So what's new in WebOS 3.0? LG is touting three major new features.

A Magic Zoom feature can zoom into the screen to magnify text and images without affecting the quality of the picture. With the Magic Mobile Connection, you can connect your Android smartphone to your LG TV to display mobile apps on the screen. And with the new on-screen Magic Remote, you can control set-top boxes and DVRs with a single remote.

Other features are also in store.

A Channel Advisor looks at your favorite programs and displays information about upcoming shows that you frequently watch. Multi-View lets you watch content from two different sources at the same time, for example, two channels or one channel and a movie running on your Blu-ray player. A new Music Player app can play music through your TV speakers without you having to turn on the TV.

You can register up to 10 of your favorite channels and check to see what's playing on them without having to leave your current screen. LG is also jumping on the Internet of Things bandwagon by letting you control compatible smart appliances from your TV. Finally, a new feature called Channel Plus displays broadcast TV channels and online programs all in one single list so you can more easily hop between a network show and an online show.

Can you upgrade the software on your existing LG Smart TV to WebOS 3.0? LG is mum on that matter. A company spokesman said LG isn't yet ready to make any announcements on potential upgrades.

LG is planning the rollout of its 2016 Smart TVs for the first quarter of the year, the spokesman said.

In 2013, LG purchased the WebOS software from Hewlett-Packard, which tried to use the software for its mobile products but botched that attempt. Instead of using the operating system on its own mobile devices, LG adapted WebOS as an interface for its Smart TVs. The company has since expanded WebOS by using it as the source for the LG Wearable Platform, an operating system that powers LG's Watch Urbane LTE smartwatch.

Update, 1:15 p.m. PT: Adds comment from LG.