It's official, LG really is incorporating an open WebOS into its 2014 lineup of smart TVs. That includes everything from the curved 55 to 77-inch OLED models all the way up to the curved 105 inch monstrosity you'll never get through the front door.
In all, LG plans to incorporate the operating system into a full 78 percent of its sets in the upcoming year. WebOS, which is based on Linux, began as a smartphone operating system developed by Palm back in 2009. Palm incorporated the OS into its Pre, Pixi, and Veer phones, but given the tepid consumer response to those handsets, Palm quickly shunted the platform over to HP. Hewlett-Packard in turn tried to run its ill-fated HP TouchPad but, by 2012, it too abandoned webOS and released it into the Internet wilds as an open source OS. LG then acquired it in the hopes of using webOS as a Smart TV platform, touting the curved 4K screens running it as the "first Smart TVs to offer compatibility with applications based on HTML standards."
Given webOS's compatibility with other open-source technologies such as Linux, Node.js, QT, Open GL/ES, webKit, Connman, LG hopes to create a more intuitive and customisable television watching experience for its customers. Per an LG press release,
The new Launcher, a left to right scrollable menu that runs along the lower portion of the screen is one of the most distinctive features of webOS. The Launcher makes it possible to switch between broadcast TV, smart TV content and media stored on external devices without having to return to the home screen. It allows the viewer to simultaneously watch a show, play a game or browse the internet while searching or downloading other content.What's more, Live Menu ---which can be opened while viewing the TV--- keeps the search, recommendation, and channel options within easy reach.
Which actually sounds a lot like what most Smart TV's can do today. However, webOS' open-source flexibility should allow app developers to more easily and expediently develop programs for the platform. The question now is, will consumers really prefer a TV that doubles as a comm station over the second screen setup that they currently use? WebOS is due due to be rolled out worldwide after its US release in June.