Smartphones are curious creatures. You could pack all of the greatest, most powerful hardware into a single shell, and it would be utterly useless without the right software. As time progresses, manufacturers grow more and more aware of this fact. Past versions of LG’s software have been, quite frankly, a bit painful to use. Gaudy UI elements and clunky design hindered it to the point where it made you not even want to use the phone. For 2014, however, LG toned down its UI to make the G3 the best it could be.
The lock screen is the logical place to begin. It’s basically a big blank area with a clock, allowing you to swipe, knock or do whatever you need to do to unlock. The homescreen is nice; it really is. It follows a simple stock Android style with a dock at the bottom with the app drawer at the center of the dock. Pre-set on the phone is an option to have the far left homescreen set as a dedicated LG info panel. The panel contains “useful” information, but I mainly just kept it on LG health for an easy pedometer. This can be turned off fairly easily in your settings. So if it’s not your thing, just get rid of it.
LG’s notification panel offers a definite variation from stock Android with quick settings available in a scrollable line at the top. Below are sliders for brightness and sound. The panel feels a bit cluttered at times, but it is nice to have all the settings handy with a just a single swipe.
As a whole, LG’s UI feels a lot like stock Android. Which is a good thing. Rather than moving away drastically, as LG has done in the past, it’s stuck to the basics and simply added a new coat of paint. And in many places, that’s been beneficial. The camera app on the G3, for example, is loads better than the stock Android camera app. LG did the right thing in implementing its new slogan, “Simple is the new smart.”
In terms of ease of use, LG’s UI functions similarly to stock Android. Most of the same swiping and long press actions are there, including the swipe up from the home button to activate Google Now. A few things have been added that increase the usability. For example, long pressing the multitasking button quickly brings up customization options for the homescreen. Likewise, long pressing the back button brings up the options for dual view, allowing you to run two apps on-screen at once. LG skipped over the gimmicks and instead stripped the features down to just those that actually increase usability.
We’re going to give a thumbs-up to LG on the software. It might not be quite as pretty as something like Sense 6, but it functions well and doesn’t get bogged down by extraneous features. In comparison to past versions of LG’s software, we can say without a doubt that this is LG’s best attempt yet, and it’s reflected in the user experience.
For screenshots of the software, check out the gallery below.