When it comes to picking a new 4K TV, there’s not too much to differentiate between models. Unless you’re shopping for a lifestyle telly, like the stunning Serif from Samsung, most TVs are pretty nondescript black rectangles. Of course, there is picture quality, and support for standards like HDR10 and Dolby Vision. And the only other reason to pick one brand over another is the software.
And when it comes to software, it’s tough to compete with Samsung (which also happens to the biggest selling telly manufacturer on the planet right now). The South Korean firm’s Tizen OS is pretty simple to use and unobtrusive, but packs an array of useful features. First up, Samsung has an almost unmatched selection of streaming apps, including staples like Netflix, YouTube and Prime Video, and is quick to add new partners – it was one of the first to offer Apple TV+ and rolled out a Disney+ app to coincide with launch day. Samsung also has its own streaming service with a selection of free shows and movies, supported by advertising.
Bringing the fight to Samsung’s all-conquering Tizen OS, LG has now announced a dramatic redesign of its own Smart TV software, known as webOS.
The next major iteration of webOS, dubbed Version 6.0, is set to arrive on 2021 Smart TV models from LG. Instead of the svelte menu found in previous iterations of webOS, which only ever occupies the lower-third of the screen and features diagonal cards to represent installed streaming services, HDMI inputs, commonly-accessed settings, and more, webOS 6.0 will take over your entire screen. Like rival telly software, including Amazon’s Fire TV and Apple’s tvOS, LG is opting for card-like tiles with gorgeous artwork from TV shows and movies. These cards are broken up with other shortcuts, including app icons for video on-demand services, HDMI, and connected smart home appliances that can be controlled from webOS. In a press image of the new software, LG shows an air purifier which can be turned on and off from within the TV menu.
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There’s a dedicated subheading for Live TV, which is designed to make jumping to linear channels much faster than before. Sport Alerts will also keep you in the loop about ongoing matches without the need to jump between channels to keep abreast of the scores. These Sport Alerts are presented in a card-like view that looks very similar to what you’ll find on the Google Nest Hub. There’s also a Weather card that offers a glanceable view of the high and low temperatures for the day, as well as the current temperature, and weather conditions outside.
It’s clear that LG is hoping to transform webOS, which is currently just a quick way to jump into Netflix or HDMI 2, into a more advanced smart home hub. AI-picked suggestions based on your viewing history are commonplace in streaming set-top boxes, like the Fire TV Stick and Chromecast with Google TV, so it’s nice to see this handy feature making the jump to the software already installed on your Smart TV straight out of the box.