Exclusive: The hottest smartwatch of CES isn't running Android Wear — it's Open webOS

Exclusive: The hottest smartwatch of CES isn't running Android Wear — it's Open webOS

LG and Audi's smartwatch collaboration is the most desirable wearable of CES 2015, and while the carmaker says it's just a prototype, the device offers a tantalizing glimpse of future LG wearables. Or at worst an agonizing look at a beautiful watch we'd love to own.
We tracked down the Audi/LG watch — still officially nameless, by the way — in Las Vegas today, and we can exclusively reveal that it's not running Android Wear as originally believed. In fact, it's packing completely different software based on LG's Open webOS.

 WebOS is the OS developed by the now-defunct Palm, which first released webOS with the Pre smartphone in 2009. Palm was bought by HP in 2010 and put out to pasture the next year. WebOS was open-sourced in 2012. LG picked up the proprietary bits (and some people along with it) in 2013. And just this week, Chinese manufacturer TCL announced it was resurrecting the Palm brand. LG told us earlier this week that it's working on bringing webOS to wearables. This, however, is our first glimpse of the software itself. And based on what we're seeing in this prototype, LG looks set to implement more standalone app functionality in its webOS wearables. Pressing the center button brings up a list of apps, with icons styled after LG's smartphone UI. There's a dialer, messages app, music, calendar, email and "LG Health W."

On top of that there's an Audi app that allows you to control various parts of a paired vehicle, including unlocking over NFC. Other apps from LG's stable include Voice Memo, Q Voice and Remote Shutter and Find My Phone; there are also some Korean carrier apps bundled on the device. The presence of a "Sounds" settings menu also suggests it might have a loudspeaker, unlike current Android Wear watches. So while there's clearly smartphone connectivity involved, LG's wearable implementation of webOS can function as a standalone cellular device as well.
The topmost button brings up a settings wheel showing cellular signal strength, battery percentage and other details in the center, with settings toggles on the outside.
A closer look at the watch's hardware reveals a few interesting details. Like the G Watch R, there are minute marks on the bezel around the outside of the watch face, and hefty lugs at the top and bottom. On the back of the watch are engravings revealing a couple more important details — it's made of stainless steel and sapphire crystal, and is water-resistant. The latter isn't surprising, but a step up to sapphire would make this watch as sturdy as it is attractive.
And we can't stress enough, this watch is beautifully crafted. Think LG G Watch R, in stainless steel, and likely much more expensive.
The name itself remains a bit of a mystery. The prototype we used didn't have a name, Audi reps told us, however digging around the software reveals a model number — LG-W120L. The device name reads "LG W," though this may well not be the final name of any future consumer product. The baseband version also points to possible internals — Qualcomm's MSM8626, aka Snapdragon 400, a chip used in many other smartwatches.
We don't yet know when a consumer version of LG's webOS-based smartwatch will become available, but we can hope that whatever LG comes up with is as beautiful as this prototype. Check out our sneak peek video for a closer look at wearable webOS.