The LG WebOS smartwatch is real, and reportedly launching in 2016

Thanks to a connected car demo from Audi at CES in Las Vegas on Wednesday, you can take a look at LG’s newest smartwatch, which is running WebOS.

Android Central and the Verge were at the [company]Audi[/company] demo, where the watch was used to call a self-driving car to the stage. The most unusual aspect of the watch’s physical design is the three crowns and buttons on the right side. Android Wear doesn’t require a physical button, and the unreleased Apple Watch has one dial and one button. The interface in the short video above certainly doesn’t look like the WebOS seen on old Palm devices or on LG TVs.

Audi told Android Central the watch used in the demo is a prototype, so there will probably be changes before it hits the market. The device strongly resembles the LG G Watch R, an Android Wear device that was launched in late 2014. It’s the same size, and has a similar etched bezel.

LG’s WebOS smartwatch plans were first outed back in October when a few images depicting the WebOS developer program were briefly posted on the LG developer website. LG originally picked up the WebOS operating system in 2013 after HP decided it wasn’t part of its future, even though it spent $1.2 billion to buy Palm.

As reported by Gigaom’s Janko Rogetters, [company]LG[/company] didn’t know what to do with WebOS at first. The team behind WebOS was based in Silicon Valley, but LG’s corporate headquarters, in Korea, consistently overruled it, especially on interface design and hiring new engineers. It’s not clear whether the Silicon Valley office or another LG office is behind the development of this new smartwatch.

The Wall Street Journal reported that you can expect the WebOS smartwatch “early next year.” By that time, Android Wear will be nearly two years old, and millions of people will have bought an Apple Watch. WebOS might be too little, too late, yet again.

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Netflix unveils seal of approval for streaming-optimized TVs

Netflix wants smart TVs to be less dumb: The streaming service will unveil a new seal of approval at CES in Las Vegas Monday that is meant to highlight TVs optimized for streaming video. TVs that feature the new “Netflix-recommended TV” logo will feature easier navigation, a snappier performance of the Netflix app and other features that are supposed to make streaming just as easy as watching regular TV.

Netflix's new seal of approval for streaming-optimized smart TVs.

Netflix’s new seal of approval for streaming-optimized smart TVs.

Some of the first companies to make [company]Netflix[/company]-recommended TVs at the show include [company]Sony[/company], [company]LG[/company], [company]Vizio[/company] and [company]Sharp[/company], as well as makers of Roku’s TV sets. Some devices, including LG’s 2015 webOS TVs, are expected to be on display at CES. The program will launch in the U.S. first, but it obviously would make sense for the company to expand it to its other markets as well.

Netflix executives have be talking for some time about the need to improve the streaming experience of smart TVs. Netflix’s Partner Devices Director Scott Mirer told me back in 2013 that the company had begun to talk to TV manufacturers and chipset makers to improve their TVs, which traditionally have been optimized for cable or broadcast viewing. “They are really still old-style linear TVs with some network feature bolted on,” Mirer said at the time about existing smart TVs.

One example Mirer gave me back then was instant-on: When you turn off your iPad or phone, it goes into a standby or sleep mode. Turn it back on, and you’re able to resume whatever you’ve been doing before, whether it was watching a video on Netflix or interacting with another app. TVs, on the other hand, are off for good. Press the power button to turn a TV back on, and you’ll have to go back to the smart TV app section, select the Netflix app, and then find your last video to continue watching.

That’s why instant-on is one of seven criteria Netflix developed for its new seal of approval. A Netflix spokesperson declined to share the full list for this story, but said that device makers who want to slap the Netflix-recommended TV logo on their models need to meet a total of five of those seven criteria.

It makes a lot of sense for TV makers to optimize their smart TVs for easier Netflix viewing and streaming in general. The average Netflix subscriber now watches 90 minutes of programming from the video service every single day, and TV makers like Vizio have been talking about a nearing inflection point, with streaming overtaking traditional TV viewing.

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First image of LG’s webOS TV pops up online

Chances are that we will see a webOS-powered LG smart TV at CES next week, and a first leak, courtesy of evleaks, already gives us an idea of how the device’s user interface could look like. The leaked image shows off live TV integration and access to a variety of apps through something that resembles the cards interface of webOS mobile devices. Some of the apps included are YouTube, Facebook and Skype, with the latter suggesting that the device will have a camera as well.

Palm’s webOS lives on…. as an Android app

Do you miss webOS as much as I do? If so and you use Android today, you’ll be happy to see webOS running as an Android app. The project isn’t ready for prime-time use, but it’s making progress. Practical? No. Geeky and nostalgic? You bet!

Game of Phones: Open webOS proves “what is dead may never die”

After buying webOS and Palm for $1.2 billion, HP pulled the plug and open-sourced the platform. The first fruits of that labor are appearing as multiple devices are getting ports of the new Open webOS, keeping Palm’s excellent mobile operating system alive for many fans.