LG confirms Android, launches new user interface

LG Electronics confirmed that it would be releasing a number of phones based on Google's Android platform in 2009. In addition, the handset maker launched its new S-Class user interface and said it would be developing an application store.

At a press conference today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the handset vendor officially announced its touchscreen Arena smartphone running on the S-Class UI. That UI features a 3D, cube interface for applications and focuses on four areas: communications, multimedia, utilities and settings. Users can hide applications that they do not use regularly off-screen, and then  tilt the phone on its side to see all of the phone's applications in horizontal lists. The UI will become standard on all of LG's high-end phones it releases in the year.

The UI features a number of intuitive bells and whistles, including a contact list that looks like a Rolodex and can be matched to pictures and videos of contacts, expandable contact lists that display contact information below names. Users also can turn on the phone's FM radio and tune it by touching it as they would a classic radio.

The UMTS-capable Arena features WiFi, Google Mobile service, surround-sound from Dolby Mobile and a 5-megapixel camera. It also has 8GB of internal storage and a microSD slot capable of holding 32GB. The phone will be available in Europe in March and then globally after that, and will sell for $600 before subsidies and deals.

LG also introduced but did not demonstrate the GM 730, which will feature both Windows Mobile 6.5 and the S-Class UI. The phone will be available for purchase in the first half of 2009. The company also announced it would launch a phone, the GD900, with a transparent keypad.

LG did not announce carrier partners for the phones, but said that there would be 10 different models using the S-Class UI released in 2009.   

The handset maker also said it would launch its own application store in the second quarter, joining the ranks of Nokia, Research In Motion and other vendors that have branched out into the application market. The company demonstrated video calling on its touchscreen watch phone, with Skott Ahn, the CEO of LG's mobile communications division, placing a video call to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. 

For more:
- see this release
- see this release on the S-class UI
- see these Arena pictures
- see these pictures from the press conference

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