LG’s new flagship phone wants to make touch-free gestures mainstream.
LG’s new flagship phone wants to make touch-free gestures mainstream.

LG phone's new feature is making iPhone users jealous

LG's latest smartphone heading to the Australian market will make you feel like Tom Cruise in Minority Report.

The company's new G8 and G8s phones come with a front facing 3D time-of-flight camera that wakes up when it senses movement and allows users to navigate the phone's interface with mid-air hand gestures.

This kind of depth sensing camera tech isn't exactly new, but the way LG is using it is different to its rivals.

You can unlock your phone with you palm by holding your hand about 20 centimetres away from the device. Once it unlocks, a grabbing and pulling gesture with your hand will bring up a menu that allows you to swipe left or right into a set of preselected apps.

In a demonstration on the floor of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, the initial gesture brought up the option to open the phone's music app where you could turn the volume up or down with a gesture akin to turning a knob, or pause and play music by swiping with your hand. Alternatively, you could swipe in the other direction and launch Google Maps.

At the moment, the phone allows only two apps to be accessed with the hand gesture but a company spokesperson told news.com.au that as the technology develops, the plan is to allow users greater ability to navigate more of the device with the touch-free movements.

It's easy to see how this would come in handy. For instance, if you were cooking and had really dirty hands you could still open your phone and check the recipe without having to touch it.

"Without touching the phone - useful especially when driving - users can answer or end calls, take screenshots, switch between applications or adjust the volume," LG said in a statement when launching the phone. However, I'm not sure the police will agree with the driving line.

The feature could also be useful when wearing gloves or when swimming, the company says.

With voice control in more devices, the hand gestures are a bit of a gimmick. But when it's getting increasingly difficult for smartphones to stand out, the novel hands free navigation feature is a pretty cool point of difference for LG but other device makers could look to emulate it.

The V50ThinQ 5G will be available on Telstra’s 5G network by mid year.
The V50ThinQ 5G will be available on Telstra’s 5G network by mid year.

The sensors used by the iPhone for Face ID should be able to duplicate this functionality and it didn't take long for Apple users to start wishing for the feature to arrive on iPhone.

"iPhone should steal these hands-free gestures from LG," ran a headline from Cult of Mac after LG unveiled the phone this week.

Similar functionality has been around for the past few years. For instance previous LG phones (and an Android app) have allowed users to take selfies by using a hand gesture. And in 2013 Samsung released Air Gestures on the Galaxy S4, but it just used a regular camera and the hand actions were clunky and slow to respond.

LG could be the first to make it work well and popularise this kind of feature. The more advanced functionality will appear on LG's latest flagship G series smartphones that are due to hit the market in the first half of the year.

While other markets will be getting the company's top line G8, Australia will only be getting the G8s.

Compared to the G8, the G8s has a larger (and lower resolution) display and is missing the Crystal Sound Display technology that vibrates the screen to produce sound.

Aside from that, the G8s has less out-of-the-box storage space with 64GB instead of 128GB, and is missing the Micro SD slot.

The G8 and the G8s are part of LG's ThinQ product family, the branding it puts on all its "smart" connected devices, which basically means your phone can talk to your smart speaker, washing machine, fridge, TV or any other ThinQ smart appliance.

LG also announced its first 5G enabled phone to become available by the end of June, the LG V50ThinQ 5G.

To compete with rivals Samsung and Huawei who are bringing out foldable devices, LG developed a dual screen optional accessory that lets user's turn their phone into a

Designed to resemble a cover case, the dual screen option gives owners a second 6.2-inch OLED display for double the viewing, gaming and multi-tasking experience, LG said.