Google states that 4 billion people across the world watch TV – but many of us are not getting the modern experience we expect of media in the Internet Age. With Google TV, Google plans to combine the familiarity of “old TV” with the freedom and power of the internet.
But what is it exactly?
What is Google TV?
As with any exciting new technology, it isn’t always clear what it actually does. The goal of Google TV is to turn television and web into a seamless experience, giving you access to online content and videos from the comfort of your living room.
Google puts it this way: the traditional way to watch a television show is to wait for it to air on a network, meaning you change your schedule to match that of the show you want to watch. The internet breaks that barrier, allowing you to watch shows whenever you feel like through outlets like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
With Google TV, you can watch online content out of the confined space of your computer’s monitor and instead play it on your TV – together with standard TV content.
Getting Google TV
Google is working with companies like Sony and LG to integrate Google TV into televisions and BluRay players which will be available exclusively through Best Buy. If you alredy have a TV or BluRay player, you can instead purchase an external Google TV box that will connect to your TV via an HDMI connection. The great news: the Google TV service will be offered completely free (minus the cost of hardware).
Future plans have also been announced that Google TV will integrate with video game consoles, like Netflix has done.
Searching and Browsing
Google TV will include a powerful search engine (of course) so you can easily find the shows you’re looking for without browsing through lists and guides. When you find a show you want to watch or subscribe to, you can quickly add it to your home screen which makes it just like a traditional TV channel. Google TV merges content from sources like Netflix, YouTube, sports websites, and many other sources along with your traditional television content, so everything is available in one central location.
A full version of Google’s Chrome browser will also be included with Google TV, so you can browse the internet just like you would on your computer. You’ll also have access to your photos and web applications like Pandora.
This is exciting news for Android fans: Google TV will include the Android Market so you can download and install Android apps right to your television. Beyond that, you can use your Android phone as the remote control for your TV, including voice search.
Popular Android applications like Google Listen will be updated to provide many more features for Google TV. The best part about including the Android Market is that new features will constantly be added to your TV, as we’ve seen with Android phones.
Google TV itself is based on Android 2.1 and Google Chrome software. Google has stated that the Google TV software will become fully open-source in 2011.
Multitasking is a big deal for most people, and Google TV will not disappoint. With this software, you’ll be able to watch a TV show in the corner of your screen while browsing the internet with Chrome. Google TV will also be able to interact with hardware you already own like a DVR to schedule recording of TV shows while you continue to watch TV as usual.
Automatic Subtitles (with translations)
Using Google’s tremendous translation and voice transcription resources, Google TV will be able to automatically generate subtitles for content and even translate those subtitles to your native language (as long as Google supports the language).
Google TV is slated to be released to customers in the United States this fall, and international expansion will take place throughout 2011. The Android Market for Google TV will also launch in 2011.
The announcement of Google TV is exciting and really broadens our concept of what we consider television. Since it includes Android software, the sky is the limit for what developers can do – I expect dozens of new features to appear after the Google TV Android Market opens.
Are you excited about Google TV, or are you worried it will be doomed to the same existence as Apple TV? Would you buy a new TV for Google TV or just the companion box? Share with us in the comments!