[Updated Oct 7] — LG recently posted a page promoting an SDK for a round-faced “WebOS SmartWatch,” but the page vanished shortly after The Verge posted an article about it.
We had a feeling the successful launch of the Linux-based WebOS distribution on LG’s Smart TV and signage computers would start LG thinking about applying the former mobile OS to some additional project categories. That’s exactly what they’re doing, according to a report in The Verge.
LG teaser for LG SmartWatch
(Source: The Verge)
Like Samsung, which offers both Android Wear and Tizen-based smartwatches, LG has apparently decided to have a Plan B in hand, or rather on the wrist. According to The Verge, a developer website hosted by LG teased an upcoming SDK for a WebOS-based LG SmartWatch with a “Coming soon!” tag. An image on one of the screens showed a Bean Bird logo borrowed from LG’s WebOS based smart TVs, as well as a rough sketch of a round-faced watch (see below).
Bean Bird image from LG
(Source: The Verge)
The Verge asked LG about it and was told: “There are many initiatives going on at LG at any given moment. The majority of them never see the light of day.” Shortly after, the SmartWatch screens were removed from the LG website.
LG already released an Android Wear based G Watch smartwatch, which weathered some tough reviews this summer. Early reports were more encouraging for a new, round-faced G Watch R model announced last month.
LG’s Android Wear based G Watch R
The Android Wear based G Watch R has fairly typical Android Wear specs, such as a 1.3-inch (320 x 320) screen size. Aside from the round orientation, highlights include the ability to be dunked in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, as well as a claim for two-day battery life.
WebOS team loses key UI designers
The Verge also asked LG about the defection of two top WebOS UI designers from LG’s WebOS TV UI team to Pebble, but received no comment. In August, Pebble announced it had hired the two team leaders — Itai Vonshak and Liron Damir — as head of product and UX, and as head of design, respectively, to help work on the Pebble smartwatch UI.
LG’s much-praised WebOS-based Smart TV interface
This was not the first time talented WebOS designers have flown the coop. Back in 2010, Matias Duarte, who led development of the WebOS UI team at Palm, joined Google as User Experience Director for Android. The defection came shortly after HP acquired Palm. Duarte went on to develop the UI for Android 2.3 (“Gingerbread”), which for the first time began to rival Apple’s iOS in terms of aesthetic appeal. He was also instrumental in other Android builds, including Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”).
HP later opened up WebOS as an open source project, and sold its proprietary WebOS assets to LG. Last month, the independent Open WebOS project returned to the public eye with a new LuneOS name. It also offered up an “Affogato” release supporting HP’s formerly WebOS-based TouchPad tablet and LG’s Android-based Nexus 4.
The WebOS crowd has long hoped LG would revive the platform in smartphones and tablets. Although that doesn’t seem likely anytime soon, a smartwatch may well be in the offing.