Everything you wanted to know about Google TV
Google TV has finally been announced in full, with Google launching the brand new Google TV site and Logitech showing off the first ever Google TV Set Top Box.
Next week will see Sony showing off the first ever HDTV with integrated Google TV, meaning the Web has finally come to the best screen in the house, and TV and web have finally become one.
Which all sounds very nice, but it does leave one important question: just what is Google TV anyway?!
Google TV – Internet TV the way it should be
Internet TV has been a technology waiting for prime-time adoption for years, now, but so far, no-one seems to have been able to implement it in a way that consumers actually want to use. Even Apple tried with Apple TV which achieved as much success as every other Internet TV manufacturer.
So what makes Google TV so different? let’s look look at the highlights.
The Search Bar
The Google TV search bar could well become one of this decade’s iconic images, sitting there like a gateway to a new way of watching TV.
It is what is says on the tin – a search bar – , but when used in the context of TV it becomes something much more interesting.
For example, let’s say you search for Formula 1 – it’ll bring up details of the next race in Japan, plus the details of it sshowing on BBC1, plus any other Formula 1 shows coming up or recorded, as well as We links galore. Plus it’ll bring up any apps you have relating to F1 and also link to video on YouTube.
Alternatively, if you look up a programme series, such as CSI, it’ll link to relevant sites like IMDB and TV.com, where you can find out more details about the programme and its actors.
It seems everything has apps nowadays – I’m expecting my cooker to grow them before long – but with Google TV’s Android heritage, TV apps take on a whole new dimension of excitement.
Apps will be available from Pandora (streaming radio), CNBC, Napster, Amazon, Netflix and Google themselves, and with thousands already developing for Android phones and tablets, the leap to the big screen may come sooner than we think. Games, web apps, weather apps and more, plus innovative apps that use the TV & web combination will soon become a reality.
All Android apps that currently work on your Android smartphone will also work on Google TV (although some, such as the jogging app, might nto work quite so well when not placed in your pocket!)
Not only is the Web the fuel that drives Google TV, it’s there for you to browse – with full Flash support. We’ve had browsing before on TVs, mainly with consoles from the Nintendo Wii (torturous) to the PS3 (not bad but no Flash), and it sort-of works.
But with the power of Google behind it, sites will begin to offer TV-friendly versions of their sites in much the same way they do with mobile versions.
These new TV Websites can help making sofa browsing a reality and even take the web in a totally different direction.
In addition, Google TV will also also offer the regular Web too, with all the browsing you can handle from the house’s comfiest chair, plus the usual Web fun with Twitter and Facebook – and all picture in picture with live action.
Video On Demand
In addition to videos from YouTube, you can also stream video on Google TV from the likes of Netflix and Amazon, enabling you to watch films with just a simple click of the mouse.
While these Video On Demand (VOD) services won’t be available to us in the UK just yet, we do have VOD services of our own from major TV companies such as Sky, BBC, ITV, C4 and Five that may well be adapted for Google TV, plus the forthcoming YouView – the merged service of BBC/C4/Five/ITV – may well find a welcome in the G box.
Plus there’s always Web video too from YouTube and Google Video, and let’s not forget the BBC’s iPlayer.
Your TV’s new Homepage
With Google TV, your telly gets a homepage, which you can customise to your heart’s content. Kind of like an iGoogle for your TV, you can place apps, internet bookmarks, Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs), VOD queues – in fact anything you like.
This is very much in the Android mould of homescreen personalisation – let’s see if it’s per person, making the TV even more personal in a busy household.
Recording TV programmes with Google TV
Recording TV isn’t new, granted. But with Google TV you’re not restricted to recording TV from broadcast – put in what you want to watch and it’ll pull down other video sources too.
So say you want to record the very excellent Interpol playing their equally excellent music, Google TV will record shows tagged as Interpol, as well as placing links to online videos of Interpol – all in a smart queue, all without you having to trawl various channels and sites.
Smart, and something unique to Google TV.
Most media players can now hold their own as media hubs, showing films, photos and playing music from directly from your PC or a USB connection.
Google TV can also do all this, but because of its Web browser and Android app support, it also supports streaming music from major streaming radio services like Pandora and Napster. Plus if Android is anything to go by, it may only be a matter of time before Spotify makes an appearance on the platform (let’s face it, the app is already written), turning Google TV into an infinite jukebox.
The Coolest Remote
So surely a remote for this device is going to be huge – or frankly horrid to use if you don’t have a QWERTY keyboard?
Well, in addition to dedicated remotes from the likes of Logitech, your iPhone or Android phone can also be your full colour touchscreen remote control, fully customisable and never lost (unless you have a habit of losing your expensive phones). So it can be a simple or as full featured as you want, and you’ll already be used to inputting text into it.
There are even more features we haven’t covered, like watching video from your phone on the TV screen to setting up recording direct from the search bar – there’s just so much Google TV can do.
Sony will be debuting their Bravia GT1 HDTV next week, and Logitech have already announced their Revue set-top box, so more details like release dates and pricing will soon become clear.
Google TV is going to be something special and genuinely represents the next step that TV and the web have been waiting for.
One for the Christmas list Santa!
[Source: Google TV]