Chrome and Google TV: I recently discovered that Google TV is actually pretty great, and ever since I've been hearing about cool stuff people are doing with the platform. One such example is Chromemote, a Chrome extension that can control your Google TV. More »
Even pundits who formerly thought Apple Television -- as in a fully integrated box with a Web browser that flings content across iPhone's, iPod touches and iPads, as well as Macs -- was hopeless are beginning to warm to the idea the company Steve Jobs reinvigorated has to try to conquer the complex home entertainment market.
Imagine a true plug-and-play experience. One set with only two wires: power and the cable TV coax. Turn it on, assert your Apple ID credentials and you're in business. The program guide looks good and is easy to navigate; pay channels are just a click and a password away. The TV runs apps, from games to FaceTime and Skype, it "just works'' with your other iDevices and also acts as a Wi-Fi base station using the cable provider's Internet service.
Apple, of course, would have to run a gauntlet of integration challenges involving CableCards and other stuff. Woo the carriers, etc.
Frankly, I was more excited by this prospect when it comes to Apple Television's competition, Google TV:
And now that Google owns Motorola, a company with known expertise in set-top boxes and CableCards, we can expect a next-generation Google TV and, quite likely, a Samsung TV set with an integrated Google TV running Android apps and competing with the putative Apple TV.
Which sounds great if you don't already own one of the Logitech Revue boxes people aren't buying, even at $99. A next-generation, integrated system such as that Google and Motorola could produce together would probably be a lot better than the current, first-generation iteration, which could stand to be far better.
Which makes me, again, wonder, if I'm using a dead-end technology. No matter, I suppose what matters is it gets the job for me done now. Just last night I updated my Google+ account through the Chrome browser on my Google TV set.
Geek.com got a nice little scoop for Google TV fans: images of next version of Google TV, running Google's Android 3.1 flavor of "Honeycomb."
Google TV fans -- it's time to get excited, but first a little perspective helps.
I just upgraded my Google I/O edition Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to Honeycomb 3.1 yesterday and am just beginning to appreciate the nuances of the new system, including expandable widgets and other perks.
My Tab was only on Android 2.0 for 40 days, but my Google TV has been stuck in the Android 2.1 timewarp since I powered it on last October. By today's smartphone evolution standards, Google TV feels ancient.
That's why this Geek.com scoopage is a breath of fresh air. I won't focus on the box Geek.com details for reasons I will get to later, but this software sounds like a nice improvement to start:
The device comes pre-loaded with Google TV 2.0 beta, which we've been told is a stripped down version of Android 3.1. It includes a Clock app and the Live TV function, which currently only receives a signal from the HDMI port. The only other app that comes pre-loaded on the box is Google Chrome-not the Android browser, an honest-to-goodness full version of Google Chrome.
There is also dual-TV, which is "likely the ability to run an app and stream TV at the same time." Nice!
I'll take full Chrome over the Android browser anyday. I can't wait to flash my Chrome Webstore apps -- Angry Birds and more -- on the big screen.
Good for Logitech.
The maker of the $300 Revue companion box that serves Google TV has come out swinging verus the media to refute the Digitimes report that it had asked Gigabyte Technology to halt sending new appliances so that Google can upgrade the product.
Logitech's rationale is that they would have no need to request a stay on new components because the Google TV upgrades are delivered over the air, the same way software updates are sent to Android phones.
This is appropriate because, well, Google TV is fueled by Android. But Logitech had to know that there are a couple reasons for concern.
First, the report doesn't come from nowhere.
While tech pundits don't seem ready to give Google TV the thumbs up, yesterday's update certainly makes Google's home entertainment platform a bit more compelling. For starters, there's built-in Netflix support and a better movie search function -- which makes it easy to find your favorite Terry Gilliam flicks (if you're in the US, anyhow) and watch them on Netflix or Amazon Video on Demand.
Google has also turned your Android smartphone into a device which can play both Angry Birds and take full control of your Google TV box. The demo video is after the break, as is the QR Code to help you grab Google TV Remote from the Android Market.
Multitasking fanatics will appreciate the improved Dual View feature, which now allows users to drag and resize the video window which floats atop the Chrome browser. This makes it much easier to actually do things in the browser while you watch -- since the non-movable window could easily get in the way of form elements and links.
Google is treading gradually into the hardware world with its Android powered devices and the Google TV. Not surprisingly, both these products are powered by the Android OS. Recently, a new technology has been unveiled which will be in use in the Google TV. The Google TV promises a new search that brings channel surfing and web surfing under the banner of Google TV Search.
Jill Szuchmacher, the business development lead for Google TV commented on the new technology saying,
We have developed something called Google TV Search that draws from a corpus of content, live TV, listings, for example, as well as in the case where there is content available on the Web. We’ve built out what we call a Quick Search Box that drops down a series of search results that are most relevant for TV.
There are some concerns on how the search will rank results and this will be a driving factor behind the growth of related businesses. The search listing will involve both Web content and regular TV content, which do not merge too well either. The ranking system as clarified by Szuchmacher:
There is a lot of secret sauce happening on the back end to connect the user to the best results, regardless of where it comes from.
What you'll see in the video after the break is darn near a geek's TV dream come true. Apart from adding super-slick search abilities to your DIRECTV received (Google TV can search everything from the program guide to your PVR stash), there's Google Chrome -- front and center on the apps menu.
Since Chrome is on board, you'll be able to enjoy the same Web content you do on your computer. That also means anything which runs on the "Chrome platform" -- extensions and the Web Store's upcoming assortment of apps and games -- should also work. While they're not demoed, it's interesting to see Netflix and Pandora apps on the menu as well.
It's an interesting look at what Google TV is all about. Check out the video and share your impressions in the comments!
A lot of people came away from watching the Google TV presentation in person at Google I/O or via YouTube May 20 confused about what the service actually was.
As one of the thousands of people watching it from YouTube, I surely was. Thanks to spotty Bluetooth access, the two-hour plus presentation had too many technical hiccups to provide a clear picture of what the service entailed.
Even the original video hosted on the Google TV Web page here wasn't so good because it explained why people need Google TV, not what it is.
Fortunately, this video gets it right:
Note that within seconds, the speaker explain that users will be able to either buy TVs (originally from Sony) that will come with the Android code already in the sets, or just buy a set-top box to plug into the HDMI port (originally from Logitech).
That explanation is glossed over only vaguely at the 1:05 minute mark in the original video. Also, within 30 seconds, the new video shows how to search for programs with a drop-down search box, tune to and record individual shows.
Users will navigate the Web with the Chrome Web browser and create split-screen views, watching sports contests while commenting on them on Twitter.
Not in the video: the Harmony remote keypad Logitech is providing to access this stuff, though Android 2.1 phone users will also be able to access the Google TV network.
There has been no shortage of detractors from guys such as Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who admitted Apple TV is a hobby, to proclaim Google TV a dead end.
Even industry analysts, who normally reserve comment until they see how products move in the market, are skeptical.
Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey offered this positive ray of light for Google TV at a time when people are condemning. It's worth mentioning for me because I agree with McQuivey's points.
These points are that, contrary to Jobs' assertion, Google TV is not in the same situation as Roku, VUDU, Boxee or Apple TV because broadband penetration is at two-thirds of U.S. households and there's enough content online to make it worth the bother of connecting the TV.
Google introduced Google TV at Google I/O May 20, capping months of speculation about the service.
Here is the gist: Google TV marries Web and television programming access, allowing users to access Web content while watching TV, or switching back and forth seamlessly between the two.
Android is the underlying operating system for the service, which comprises Intel Atom chip-powered Sony TVs and Logitech companion boxes. Users will access Web apps through Google Chrome browser. Best Buy will sell the devices in the fall.
Tim Bray, a developer evangelist for Android at Google, ran this nice little Q&A on the emerging service with Google TV Technical Director Vincent Dureau, who began working on TV ads for Google after joining the company from Direct TV four years ago.