It’s not easy to determine which smart TV platform is really leading the market. Smart TV sales don’t exactly correlate to the popularity or quality of the software that runs on them. Despite having been a close Google partner back when it still made smartphones, LG has opted to pave its own path with a proprietary spin of webOS made especially for TVs. It has opened up that platform to more TV makers and is now giving its own competitors one of its exclusive features, the ability to speak to Amazon’s Alexa, even without an Alexa-powered speaker.
Earlier this year, LG expanded from being just a smart TV manufacturer to a developer and distributor of a smart TV platform. Unlike Samsung’s Tizen-based OS for TVs, LG decided to start licensing its webOS TV to other companies in the same smart TV makers. It wasn’t worried too much about competition, given that many of these companies play in different markets or on different tiers.
That said, webOS TV on LG TVs and webOS TV on third-party TVs aren’t equal. The latter still misses some features that may remain exclusive to LGs own products. One of those is finally breaking free, and owners of those non-LG webOS TVs will soon be able to speak with Alexa, provided they have one required piece of equipment other than the TV.
webOS TV’s Alexa interaction happens via LG’s Magic Remote, which probably doesn’t come with the smart TV. The remote allows TV owners to simply speak their wish to open apps, change channels, or even control compatible smart home appliances. Alexa, in turn, will respond through both audio and visual feedback on the smart TV.
LG says that the Alexa integration will be available this quarter via an over-the-air update for third-party webOS TVs. The rollout starts in North America, followed by Europe and Asia. Although it does mean that those TVs will be on almost equal footing with LG’s own smart TVs, the company hopes the move will make it look more sincere and serious in being a smart TV platform developer.