LG debuts open source version of webOS to take it beyond TVs

20 Mar 2018 | Rasmus Larsen |

LG has released an open source version of its TV operating system. The South Korean company hopes that ‘webOS Open Source Edition’ will move beyond TVs into entirely new types of products.

webOS comes full circle

Before LG took stewardship of webOS, it was in fact open source. The first time it went open source was after HP gave up on development. So with LG’s announcement, webOS comes full circle.

Releasing an open source version of webOS is “part of a broader effort to make webOS even more accessible to today’s consumers and industries”, the company said.

- “When LG adopted webOS for our popular smart TV lineup in 2013, it did so with the knowledge that webOS had tremendous potential,” said Dr. I.P. Park, Chief Technology Officer at LG Electronics. “webOS has come a long way since then and is now a mature and stable platform ready to move beyond TVs to join the very exclusive group of operating systems that have been successfully commercialization at such a mass level. As we move from an app-based environment to a web-based one, we believe the true potential of webOS has yet to be seen.”

LG is using webOS in most of its TVs but development has slowed significantly in recent years. At CES 2018, LG did not even mention webOS when it announced its 2018 TV line-up. The OS is based on a linux-kernel as well as a HTML5 and CSS3 framework.

LG webOS

webOS is also implemented in Bang & Olufsen’s latest Eclipse TV that has been built in partnership with LG Electronics. This is the first time that webOS has been licensed to another TV manufacturer but it is unclear if this move foreshadows broader availability in TVs. Samsung is currently using its in-house Tizen, whereas Sony uses Google’s Android TV. Panasonic briefly used Firefox OS but the project was killed a few years after launch. Amazon and Roku also trying to sign up TV manufacturers to use their respective TV platforms.

So what kind of products can we expect to see webOS in? Well, LG imagines tablets and set-top boxes but the company has also partnered with National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) in South Korean to “solicit webOS business proposals from hundreds of start-ups recommended by NIPA and shortlist the most viable ones”.

webOS Open Source Edition can be downloaded from webosose.org.

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