Ahead of the May 2 launch of the LG G7, the company has announced the opening of a new "Software Upgrade Center" at its headquarters in South Korea dedicated to improving the process of creating and releasing software updates for its smartphones. As the name would imply, the goal is pretty simple: "providing customers worldwide with faster, timelier, smartphone operating system and software updates."
The rest of the announcement says all of the right things:
The Software Upgrade Center will not only be charged with developing and delivering regular OS updates for LG smartphones, it will also be responsible for ensuring a consistent user experience on LG devices by continuously testing the stability and compatibility between hardware and software after updates.
The creation of the center will enable LG to roll out OS updates faster in countries where LG smartphones are available to ensure that customers around the world receive the same level of quality service.
The only question, then, is how well it can execute on this plan.
Software updates haven't been a strong suit for LG, exemplified by last year's G6 still not having Oreo — that spotty update record exists despite the company's history of both being a Nexus partner in the past and being one of the first to launch phones on multiple new versions of Android. LG's devices have regularly struggled with getting consistent platform updates, let alone a steady flow of monthly security updates. The LG V30, which launched on Nougat in September, just started receiving Oreo on some carriers at the end of March.
A new center and dedicated software update team is great — actually getting regular updates is even better.l
LG has also regularly faced scrutiny over issues of software reliability over time, picking up a reputation for selling phones that bootloop and fail at a higher-than-normal rate. The Software Upgrade Center is also focused on things of this nature, being "responsible for ensuring a consistent user experience on LG devices by continuously testing the stability and compatibility between hardware and software after updates."
The first order of duty for the new Software Upgrade Center is finishing and releasing the Oreo update for the G6, which LG says will happen by the end of April in South Korea followed by other markets. That gives a nice glimmer of hope to those who have held onto their G6 waiting for an update for several months now, but the real test will come in future updates after this Software Upgrade Center is up and running completely.
Saying that you have a new team dedicated to software updates and a center for them to work together is one thing; actually delivering those updates is another hurdle entirely, and the only thing people actually care about. Jo Seong-jin, CEO of LG Electronics, makes it clear that improving after-sales support is extremely important: "Stable and consistent upgrades will demonstrate to our customers that LG smartphones have long and reliable lifespans." Let's hope that holds true.
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