Software

The software offerings from some of the big players in the Android market can be seriously mediocre. While Samsung has been working hard to address their software failings by reducing the amount of bloatware and modernizing their interface, LG’s software platform has stagnated and remains unfriendly to those who prefer a cleaner Android experience.

The worst thing about LG’s software offering is still the inclusion of duplicate and bloatware apps. I complained about this exact same issue with the LG G5, and it seems LG has done literally nothing to address the issue with the G6. There is simply no reason that an Android OEM needs to clog up the phone with apps that Google already provides. Two gallery apps. Two email apps. Two music apps. Two app stores! This creates a confusing experience and litters the OS with annoying “choose which app to open” dialog boxes.

On top of this, LG bundles in unnecessary crap, including duplicate bloatware in the form of both LG’s QuickMemo+ app and Evernote. Why does the G6 need two note-taking apps installed out of the box? On top of that you get a tasks app, a health app and a few apps that are just shortcuts to settings menus. None of these things are necessary, particularly health and note-taking apps as most users just download their preferred third-party offering from the Play Store.

LG has cleaned up some areas of their interface, such as the notification pane, to closer fit with Android 7.0 that’s now included out of the box. Other areas still need attention, such as the settings screen with bizarre tabulation. Why do network, sound, and display settings get their own tabs, but a further nineteen submenus must be crammed into the ‘general’ tab? Simplifying the settings screen as much as possible makes it easier for users to browse to the settings they need, which is something Samsung did with the Galaxy S8 but LG has failed to do here.

The general style of LG’s software offering still feels dated compared to vanilla Android and skins from competitors. Parts of the OS like Smart Bulletin are just tacked-on additions that add little-to-no value to the experience, at least compared to what Google and others provide through tools like Now. One positive here is that the G6 does support Google Assistant, though this isn’t surprising considering Google recently pushed Assistant to practically every Android device. What was a selling point for LG when they announced this phone is no longer that special.

There are some good points to the G6’s software. LG continues to make their skin highly customizable, including the ability to switch between a homescreen with or without an app drawer. Theming support, the ability to change the navigation buttons, easy display size adjustments, and quick launch shortcuts are all included here. There’s also a few handy utilities, such as smart settings to adjust settings when you enter/leave your house, and ‘smart doctor’ for some storage, battery and performance optimizations.

But for the most part, LG’s software doesn’t do anything hugely special, and certainly packs no ‘wow’ factor. It’s a skinned version of Android with some interesting inclusions, though largely you’re just getting bloatware and a fairly mediocre visual style. LG needs to apply a heavy dose of polish throughout the OS to bring the software up the standard I expect from a flagship smartphone.

As for updates, LG doesn’t have an amazing track record with pushing out the latest versions of Android on time, in fact my review unit is still stuck on the March security patches. If you care about updates, stick with a Google Pixel.