Once upon a time, webOS powered a smartphone called the Palm Pre that was all set to battle it out with the iPhone and HTC Dream/G1 for dominance in the smartphone market. Things didn’t exactly pay out in the Pre’s favor, but seven years later, webOS is still alive. It’s just powering a totally different kind of hardware.
LG has announced that it plans to show off webOS 3.0, its latest smart TV platform, at CES 2016 in January. LG describes webOS 3.0 as a “major update” that offers a trio of “magic smart features.” First is Magic Zoom, which lets the user zoom into objects and images without degrading image quality. Then there’s Magic Mobile Connection, which will enable users to connect a phone to their TV using the LG TV Plus app to show their smartphone apps on their TV. Finally, an upgraded Magic remote adds power and menu buttons for set-top boxes and also includes the ability to control DVR functions.
LG is also touting the Channel Plus feature of webOS 3.0. Channel Plus will integrate over-the-top (think content that you get over the Internet) into your standard broadcast TV channels. The goal of Channel Plus is to make accessing that over-the-top content easier by building it into your channel list and surfing through all of the channels just like you’re used to doing.
LG bought webOS from HP in early 2013 and then put it to use on smart televisions the following year. Since then, the former card-based mobile OS has been powering LG’s smart TV lineup but hasn’t made the jump back to mobile. With Android and iOS continuing to dominate the mobile market and not leaving many scraps for others, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see another webOS smartphone launch. Because webOS seems to be doing alright for LG’s TV business, though, it looks like the platform will continue to stick around in some capacity for a while.