Don't ruin webOS for the living room, LG

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| December 19, 2013

Sometimes something just sticks with you. It doesn't even matter what it is, or how silly some people might think it is. A cartoon, a movie, a book, an old jingle attached to an advertisement you saw when you were a kid. Whatever it is it manages to attach itself to your brain, and you can't go an extended period of time without being reminded of it or thinking about it in general.

I miss stackable app cards. I miss the digital wave I could move back and forth on my device's touchscreen. I miss having a messaging app that integrated other messaging services into it, so I could seamlessly switch from a text message to Google Talk (way back when!) other platforms on the fly. (Others have tried this, but others didn't do such a good job.) I even kind of miss a phone that looked like a pebble smoothed by streaming water.

Essentially, what I'm trying to get across here, is that I miss webOS as a whole, and it's getting to the point where I'd even think about using something like the very first Pre if a company were to re-launch it with a new, shinier and up-to-date version of webOS. I'd do it! But, while I'd be willing to give that a shot, and I'm sure others out there would, too (even if it didn't come with a 6-inch display with a ridiculous resolution), it's become pretty clear today that that dream is completely dead.

Unfortunately, it was inevitable.

Back in February of this year, we got word that LG had some interest in webOS, the platform built by Palm, purchased by HP, and eventually left to rot by that company. There was some period of time there where developers out there were building an open version of webOS, but nothing on a widespread scale ever came of that. So, LG went ahead and picked up the platform that ad originally been seen on smartphones and tablets, and announced that they'd be releasing the OS on a device, too.

Not a phone, or a tablet, or even a phablet. Nope, LG wanted to stick with what they know: TVs. Early on February 25, it was announced that LG had indeed purchased webOS from HP, and that they planned on putting the platform on future smart TVs. After that, everything got super quiet. LG went dark, and other than some small blips here and there about the open source project, webOS effectively dropped off the map all over again.

As a webOS fan, this is the sort of roller coaster that I don't want to be on. There's no doubt in my mind that the mobile platform didn't get a fair shake in the market, and that if the situation were different, webOS could easily be the third operating system, rather than any other.

Instead, we get it on a TV. It's good at a basic level, because that means webOS gets to technically live on, even if it means that our interaction with the platform isn't going to be made the way it was meant to. Yes, it's great that folks out there will be able to use webOS at all, but it won't be nearly enough. 

We'll know more for sure when LG shows off their new webOS-powered smart TVs at CES 2014 (which is right around the corner already), but my big fear is that people actually won't interact with webOS nearly at all. What I mean is, if the smart TV comes with a remote control that features quick access to things like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or whatever other app is available on the TV, then users will just hit that and skip actually interacting with the software at all.

I just don't want webOS to be some platform that LG knew it could easily build upon, then bury underneath their proprietary software so no one actually ever sees it, or uses it in the way that it should be used. If that is indeed what happens, then it really doesn't matter that webOS exists, or that it's available on any kind of device at all, does it?

We'll just have to wait and see, I guess. No matter what, though, I wish LG had just given us a phone. Or, to be more specific, given webOS to a phone manufacturer that would have actually used it and made something awesome. Hopefully we'll be able to say that about an LG-branded smart TV next year.

So, I just have one question for you this time around: Do you miss webOS? Let me know.