Things never went very well for webOS. Between its blockbuster launch at CES in 2009 and its relaunch on LG's smart TVs today lies a history of failed ambitions and a lost history of never-released products. When LG acquired parts of webOS in February of last year, we had two questions: what exactly did LG plan to do, and why did it need webOS to do it? We finally have answers to both of those questions, and they're unsurprisingly simple and straightforward. webOS turned out to be a flexible platform that could be repurposed for the TV and — more importantly — the team behind it had a vision for how a smart TV should work.

On the eve of LG's launch, I sat down with webOS’s head of product management and design, Itai Vonshak, as well as Colin Zhao, director of product management for LG's Silicon Valley Lab. As they demoed LG's new interface to me, I was by turns intrigued, bemused, and doubtful that it was up to the task of convincing people that it would be worth buying a new TV for. Most of all, I was impressed by the clarity of vision behind the new interface. For better or worse, webOS has an opinion about how smart TVs should treat their users, and by all appearances that opinion is executed very, very well. LG is better known for pretty schizophrenic Android skins on its smartphones, so to see the company produce something this coherent was a shock.