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The LG G5's modular design is now open to developers, but with a catch

LG has released a new SDK and HDK for the G5's modular design, which will allow devs to make their own modules. Unfortunately there are a few downsides to the process.

Published onApril 12, 2016


The LG G5 is not your average smartphone. It might be comparable on the spec sheet to most other flagships out there, but it has a big trick up its sleeve — a modular design. The problem is, when the G5 was first launched there were only a few modules available, and they were all made by LG. The LG Hi-Fi Plus and LG CAM Plus are the only two Friends available at the moment, but that will change sometime soon.

[related_videos align=”right” type=”custom” videos=”684693,684690,676155,675613″]At LG’s annual Developer Event, the company has announced that the G5’s modular design is now available to developers. This means that going forward, third party devs will be able to learn how to develop apps and hardware that work with LG’s existing Friends (like the CAM Plus, Hi-Fi Plus and 360 CAM), and also learn how to create new modules that will work with the G5. LG has released new software and hardware development kits that are now available at this website.

The way LG is going about this process is a little odd, though. Instead of releasing the HDK to developers and letting them go crazy with it, LG’s website makes it pretty clear that modules need to be co-developed with the company. Here’s a small snippet from the site:

Q. Does the Modular Friends require co-development with LG?
A. Yes. Modular Friends should be co-developed with us because it affects smartphone’s performance and design significantly.

LG claims that it will review all submissions and select the best ones to be co-developed with the company. This of course means that if you want to spend time creating a module, your idea might not even be chosen. Furthermore, LG’s site tells us that developers won’t even get all of the profit. See below:

Q. How much can I take profits if my idea is implemented to a real product?
A. Further discussion will be individually given when the co-development started. It is based on the mutual agreement and contract with you.

It’s understandable why LG is doing this, but it’s no way to start a modular ecosystem. LG will only select the best ideas that are submitted to them, and then they’ll have to spend time co-developing these modules with developers. This will obviously help make sure all modules will work well with the phone. But in doing so, it will slow down the overall development process more than what’s necessary. Like I mentioned above, there are only two modules available right now (one of them isn’t even available in the U.S.), so it will be quite some time before the company is able to pick a few ideas, co-develop them, and bring them to market.

It’s also understandable why LG plans on taking some of the profit. They’re doing part of the work, so they get part of the reward. But this will surely drive some developers away from the idea of creating modules for the G5.

Creating an accessory ecosystem for a brand new smartphone is already a tough thing to do, so it’ll be interesting to see how this whole thing turns out.

[press]SAN FRANCISCO, April 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — LG Electronics (LG) has opened up the new LG G5, inviting developers to reimagine the possibilities for the modular design smartphone and companion devices.  At its fourth annual LG Developer Event, hosted on April 15 in San Francisco, attendees will learn how they can develop apps and hardware compatible with the award winning LG G5. In advance of the event, LG has also launched its new software development kit (SDK) and hardware development kit (HDK).

To help developers monetize the LG G5 companion devices they create, LG will soon be launching a new market place ( as well.  The online destination will further support developers, allowing them to sell their compatible products and content directly to consumers.

“The potential of the industry changing LG G5 and the concept of Friends are limitless. Now we want to give everyone a chance to apply their talent and imagination in developing their own apps and Friends for the LG G5,” said Dr. Ramchan Woo, Vice President, Smartphone Product Planning at LG Electronics. “We believe that by giving developers the same tools that inspired us from LG G5’s inception, we’re going to see innovations ranging from toys to medical tools to things we haven’t even thought of ourselves.”

The Friday evening event will be emceed by Mario Tapia – mobile industry pundit – and will include keynote presentations from LG executives involved in LG G5’s product development, SDK and HDK partners, technical demonstrations and breakout sessions. Developers will also learn how to create their own camera control apps for the new LG 360 CAM and LG 360 VR viewer and also learn more about Google’s Open Spherical Camera API.

Registration is now open on a first-come, first-serve basis. Marshmallow fans and Android developers rejoice – those in attendance will receive a sweet, picture-perfect surprise. To  register and learn more about the event and LG’s Developer Program, please visit:

LG, the LG logo and LG Life’s Good are the registered trademarks of LG Corp. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. All other product and service marks contained herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

About LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc.
LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc. based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., is the U.S. sales subsidiary of LG Electronics, Inc. a global innovator and trend leader in the global mobile communications industry. LG is driving the evolution of mobile forward with its highly competitive core technologies in the areas of display, battery and camera optics and strategic partnerships with noted industry leaders. LG’s consumer-centric products — including the flagship premium G Series models — incorporate unique, ergonomic designs and intuitive UX features that enhance the user experience. The company remains committed to leading consumers into the era of convergence, maximizing inter-device connectivity between smartphones, tablets and a wide range of home and portable electronics products. For more information, please visit[/press]

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