Years and years after Samsung, HTC, and Motorola started plopping bloated skins on top of stock Android, manufacturers are still trying to create semi-artificial market differentiation with their shiny software toys. While manufacturer skins have gotten more tolerable as of late (thanks in no small part to the way they've also become much more resource efficient), it's still vaguely annoying that all these companies feel the need to spend vast amounts of time and effort completely overhauling something that already works pretty well.

Which brings us to LG's UX 5.0, the latest version of its ill-defined manufacturer skin. LG seems oddly eager about this release, the way HTC used to be about the full-version upgrades of Sense. The new skin debuts with the LG G5 and will probably be the standard for all of LG's Android-based hardware for the next year or two, possibly even making it to a few older phones via an over-the-air update. The company is so pleased with itself that it's made an introduction video highlighting all the new features.

And it's... fine. It's okay. It's not the worst skin I've ever seen (Lenovo's blatant iPhone ripoff still takes that particular cake), and not the best. The biggest change is to the homescreen, which has replaced an app drawer with an iOS-style all-in-one manager page, but if you don't like it you can change back in the settings menu. There's also a rather neat feature that allows users to quickly re-install apps they've recently uninstalled, a sort of reverse buyer's remorse. Other than that, UX 5.0 has a world clock, a health app, a camera that senses when you're posing, and a bunch of other bells and whistles that are more or less standard on high-profile Android phones at this point.

There is one other unique aspect of UX 5.0, though it's more about LG's current market push than the software itself: "LG Friends." This function automatically detects LG-branded accessories, like the G5's modular add-ons or first-party gadgets such as the 360 CAM and 360 VR. Then it downloads the appropriate manager apps and automatically sets everything up for you. I suppose that could save both a little space on your phone and a little time in tedious setup.

Press Release

SEOUL, Mar. 28, 2016 — With the imminent consumer rollout of the new LG G5, LG Electronics (LG) will also be introducing a new version of its mobile user interface, LG UX 5.0. Designed for a more playful and innovative mobile experience, LG UX 5.0 will offer advanced features and greater convenience not only for LG G5 users but owners of upcoming smartphone models as well.

Based on Android’s latest Marshmallow OS, LG UX 5.0 conveys LG’s philosophy on the future of mobiles. LG UX 5.0 is an enjoyable, enhanced and user-centric UX that supports easy connection for optimal control of LG Friends and delivers a more convenient and powerful experience by adding new functions that allow users to enjoy the G5 to its maximum potential.

“We analyzed the lifestyle of smartphone users to provide a superior mobile experience and greatly expanded the usability with LG UX 5.0,” said Juno Cho, president and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “LG UX 5.0 and G5 were designed to provide an innovative user experience that reflects the needs of our most demanding customers.”

An Enjoyable UX for Connecting with LG Friends

The highlight of LG UX 5.0 is LG Friends Manager, a versatile application that enables users to easily connect with and control the modules and accessories known as LG Friends. LG Friends Manager intuitively detects nearby accessories for easy pairing with LG G5, easily downloading and installing all the required apps from the Google Play Store. No hassles, no hunting. With LG Friends Manager, the process of connecting the LG G5 to its Friends couldn’t get any easier.

LG Friends Manager generates a different display for each LG Friend. When paired with the 360 CAM, the screen on the G5 will display photo previews and the available shooting modes. The Friends Camera Album in the Gallery enables users to categorize and manage images captured with LG Friends such as 360 CAM and Rolling Bot.

An Enhanced UX for a Powerful Visual Experience

The greatest advantage of LG UX 5.0 is its enhanced support for LG G5’s extremely powerful camera. Image and video capturing has never been so enjoyable with features such as:

Zoom In & Out – Seamlessly switch between the standard 78-degree lens to the 135-degree wide angle lens by simply pinching the screen.

Auto Shot – An enhanced version of Gesture Shot, take the perfect selfies with this smart feature which triggers the shutter as soon as the users’ face is recognized.

Multi View – Captures different angles of images at the same exact moment using the front and rear cameras of the G5 and the LG 360 CAM.

360 Wallpaper – Images taken with the LG 360 CAM can be displayed as a 360 panorama, shifting in sync with movements of the G5.

Pop-out Picture – Combine two images taken simultaneously with the standard and wide angle lens to create a picture-in-a-frame effect.

Film Effect – Raise the level of effects with this set of filters that deliver an “analog” feel to photos. Use Camera Preview to preview and change a filter on the fly before taking the shot.

A User-Centric UX for Greater Convenience

LG refined its user interface and included several new smart features on LG UX 5.0 to enhance usability and convenience, such as:

New Home – LG combined its Home Screen with the App Drawer in LG UX 5.0 to simplify the user experience. Users who prefer the traditional style can download the Home & App Drawer directly from the settings menu on the LG G5.

LG Health – Upgraded for UX 5.0, LG Health provides a Beginner as well as Advanced mode matched to the user’s profile. Start with Beginner and switch to Advanced once your activities reach a certain level, staying motivated along the way with visual details of your progress.

Always-on – Avoid the hassle of turning on the smartphone display just to check the time. With Always-on, all your key information including the date, notifications and SMS icon are displayed on the screen at all times.

Smart Doctor – Keep your G5 performing at its optimal level with solutions and tips based on your usage habits.

World Clock – Enhanced with an attractive graphical user interface, this smart clock displays the time in selected cities around the world and immediately syncs them to whatever local time you set for easy scheduling of phone calls and meetings.

File Manager – Navigate the G5 as easily as navigating your PC with direct access to any folders or files indicated by the directory path at top. Use the new search filter to find documents, videos and images anywhere on your G5.

Quick Help – Find answers to any questions about the G5 quickly and easily or request feedback by e-mail.

LG Backup – Use LG Backup and NFC to restore conveniently from other Android phones and now record conversations from your favorite messenger app.

Diverse Security Method – In addition to LG’s familiar Knock Code, accurate fingerprint recognition is now built into LG UX 5.0 to provide added convenience and security.