Google TV is touted to be a brand new platform which will supposedly “change the future of Television”, but until they back up their words with action, we will adopt a wait and see attitude. First off, some facts – folks in the US watch more than 5 hours of TV on average, resulting in $70 billion worth of advertising. Not only that, there are 4 billion TV viewers worldwide, which is more than the cellphone/smartphone market. Mathematical buffs will be pleased to note that this is nearly 2/3 of the world’s population who watch TV. In a nutshell? “TV just works”, but currently Google says the Web has a very limited adoption in TVs (you don’t say, simply because the Web experience sucks on that platform with ill-designed input methods). Read more about how Google aims to revolutionize this experience right after the jump.
Google TV aims to circumvent some traditional issues such as dumbing down the Web on a TV, the problem of closed systems as well as making the no-brainer choice between a TV and a computer. But what if you could search TV like you search the Web? Imagine searching and choosing, letting the TV change its channel thereafter. Sounds good in theory, but you will need a good input device – or at least, a half-decent one to get it working. Nice to know that Google are already talking to device manufacturers at the moment. Apart from that, each search result will let you see what’s on TV at the moment, alongside what is available on the web regardless of whether it is free or paid. In the demonstration, changing from TV to Web was seamless, where returning to live TV required a mere 2 “Back” clicks, similar somewhat to Windows Media Center. Could this ease-of-use convince gramps to get a new Web-enabled TV?
The home screen of Google TV looks like your typical media browser, where Google has already partnered with a few content providers. The suggestions can be personalized (similar to Netflix). Since this is a full Web experience, it is a snap to enjoy benefits of content sites including YouTube and Hulu. Basically, what you get is more or less similar to what is seen on a computer, or the equivalent of having a PC hooked up to your TV. The integration is nicely done, but apart from channel/program search, it’s not that groundbreaking. At least Picture-in-Picture is supported.
Bookmarking Channels is also really cool. That way you don’t have to swim through crappy channels to get to the good one. No more representing your household for the TV Olympics in the Flipping Channels event, eh?
All in all, Google TV is nice to have in the living room, but will it really introduce a revolution as claimed? We would love to see new developments on this front, and suddenly it makes Panasonic and Skype’s collaboration seem rather ancient.
Google TV will also work with voice, but better yet, Google is going to release an SDK that folks at the conference can use to build upon. Apart from that, Google will deliver Android apps to Google TV which would mean you can access Pandora as well as similar other services. For developers, this could very well be a whole new avenue where they can sell their apps – be they Web or Android apps. We do have one beef with Google TV though, that is the box doesn’t seem to be a DVR for you to record your favorite shows when you aren’t able to watch them. Let’s just hope that there is enough content available, an area where Hulu currently is king of the hill.
Google also showed off YouTube Leanback, a version of YouTube which requires a whole lot less interaction compared to the PC version. Nice to know that Google has still retained all of the social networking features which has been there all along. Leanbank is a personalized channel, but while it sounds good in theory, it really depends on the kind of available content. At this moment in time, YouTube isn’t exactly the prime destination where TV-worthy content is concerned.