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Chasing Roku & Google, LG Announces webOS 2.0 Smart TVs

Spilling the beans on its own CES news, LG announced tonight (Dec. 17) that its new smart TVs for 2015 will sport the second generation of the webOS software (a descendant of the Palm operating system) it introduced in 2014. LG hasn't announced its TV lineup yet, so we don't know what models will get the webOS 2.0 love, or if older TVs will be able to upgrade. In fact, the short announcement was rather vague, but here are a few facts we gleaned. (Note: Should you see LG ads on this page, know that the editors don't determine what ads appear.)

Speed is one of the big selling points for the upgraded OS — and one sorely needed. LG told Tom's Guide recently that its current webOS takes up to 40 seconds to launch. The new webOS 2.0 will cut that time by 60 percent, as well as well as provide 70 percent faster times from when you push a button for an app like YouTube till when it starts playing. With competing systems like Roku — now on TVs as well as set-top-boxes — running lightening fast, smart TV makers must be feeling the pressure to catch up. LGs smart models will also have to compete with big-name TVs running Google's Android TV.

webOS Gets Personal

The new webOS also has more personalization options, with a My Channels app that lets users drop icons for favorite channels (cable/satellite or online) into the launcher bar that pops up from the bottom of the screen. The bar is the signature feature of webOS — as well as other smart TV interfaces, such as Vizio's VIA Plus (Vizio Internet Apps) system. 

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In addition, LG announced a feature called Quick Settings that, "lets viewers adjust their TV without interrupting the program they’re watching." This is one we're got to see. TV settings menus typically cover half or more of the screen that you are trying to adjust. If LG has found a way to prevent that, it will be welcome news for videophiles with itchy remote-control fingers. 

LG's smart interface is also the gateway to online 4K content. LG reaffirmed its relationship with Amazon Instant Video and Netflix in its announcement tonight. We wonder about other online streaming services, such as M-Go. Surely, more will be revealed by CES, if not sooner.

Senior editor Sean Captain wishes he had more free time to watch TV. Follow him @seancaptain. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Sean Captain is a technology and science writer, editor and photographer.