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Google TV: Meet the new smart TV software coming to Sony and TCLTV this year

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Sony, TCL, and several other brands of smart TVs will look a little different in 2021 as businesses switch from Android TV to Google TV. But why change? What’s the difference between the new Google branded platforms?

Sony smart TVs are the most noticeable switch, but they’re not the only ones. Other Android TV makers are also migrating to the new Google TV platform as Google updates all its TV software products.

So what is Google TV and why do smart TVs need it?

What is Google TV?

Google TV is the latest version of Google’s smart TV platform, formerly known as Android TV. In some respects, the move to Google TV is simply a brand name change, as the underlying Android software is still all that works.

(Image credit: Google)

That said, the new Google TV name has some changes beyond skin depth. With an updated look and feel for basic interface elements such as the home screen and improved communication between TVs, smartphones and other devices, Google TV may feel like a big change from what you were using on Android TV. not.

And if you’re wondering, “Have I heard of Google TV before?” you’re right. Google TV was the first name Google entered into smart TVs and set-top boxes in 2010. (Remember Logitech Revue?) Everything old is new.

Why change?

Google offers Android, Chromecast, YouTube, TV and movie content on the Google Play store and has been involved in the world of smart TVs and streaming for many years. However, these various software and hardware were not cohesive. In the early days of streaming and smart TVs, that made sense, and Google had room to experiment and experiment. But as the television situation today is much more established and the streaming world is mainstream, Google TV is part of the impetus to integrate these different experiences into a more cohesive one.

(Image credit: Google)

Google TV integrates some of these elements. This is the main interface for new Chromecast devices and current smart TVs. You can add things to your watchlist from your mobile phone, share content more easily between devices, and get a more personalized experience. In addition, by more closely integrating with YouTube TV, Google’s own paid live TV service, Google aims to establish itself as a complete solution for the latest TV viewing.

Over the next few years, we can expect all of Android, including smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks, to move to Google TV.

How is it different from Android TV?

The move to Google TV is more than anything else renamed, but Google TV has some empirical and functional changes that make it different from any previous version of Android TV. The biggest changes relate to user interaction, searching and sharing information between devices.

For the first time, I actually saw an interface that combines Chromecast and Google TV reviews. The main interface has been cleaned up a bit, with a tab dedicated to live TV and a “For You” tab with all the recommendations in one place. Other tabs give you quick access to a library of movies, shows, apps, purchased and rented content.

The home screen has also changed to prioritize content recommendations from your favorite streaming service. Hopefully that means more suggestions for the show you want to watch and less ads for services you may not want to pay.

You’ll also get more carefully selected suggestions for providing live TV, whether it’s a live show or a live TV service like YouTube TV.

(Image credit: Google)

There is also a new “watch list” that allows you to bookmark programs from various apps for later viewing. This is a persistent list that syncs across different devices, so you can add titles on your mobile phone, web browser, and other devices that can log in to your Google account.

As support for voice interactions increases, the Google Assistant will play a central role. TVs with long-range microphones (including multiple Sony TVs) can use hands-free voice search and can use Google-powered smart TVs like the Google Home smart speaker.

It also has improved integration with all smart home devices. If it works on Google Home, it works on your TV. Also, if you have a device with a camera feed, like the best video doorbells, you can display that feed on your screen.

What are the benefits of Google TV?

Everything we like about Android TV, including the Google Play store and its over 5,000 apps, continues to exist on Google TV. This includes all major streaming services such as Netflix, Apple TV, Disney Plus and HBO Max.

Searches with intuitive voice search that allow you to easily view shows and movies and jump to a full web search when needed should be as good as you might expect.

Google TV adds support for multiple user accounts. This means you can have your own experience on the same smart TVs your family uses. In our own words, Mike Prospero, “I didn’t get the Gilmore Girls nomination and she doesn’t see the Fast & Furious series on the screen.”

(Image credit: Google)

There is also a kids profile that allows you to set up an account for kids on your TV. That profile allows you to personalize things for your family and rule out apps and recommendations that may not be suitable for younger users. You can also set a specific TV viewing time and stop it at a specified bedtime.

One of the additional bonuses: Google TV is reported to have a “basic TV” mode that effectively turns the set into a dumb TV. Turn off everything you need to use your smart TV, such as an internet connection for streaming, content recommendations and ad tracking, and disable the Google Assistant (because your web connection is broken). All that remains is a live TV via a TV antenna or cable and an external device such as a media player or gaming machine that connects via HDMI. Even the home screen has been largely removed, providing the same basic TV experience as modern TVs.

Is there anything wrong with Google TV?

Well, I haven’t had many opportunities to use the new Google TV software, so there are still many things I don’t understand. Chromecast users have reported some bugs, such as the app not launching properly and the search getting a bit clunky, but we need to see if that’s the case when the first Google TV smart TV comes into test. there is.

Apart from that, the biggest problem with this Google TV change may simply be confusing. The new Google TV replaces the Android TV, not the old Google TV, and is mostly Android TV except for the name and logo. In product categories that are full of jargon, branding features, and mysterious spec lists, simple is usually better.

Good news? This seems to be Google’s ultimate goal with a change from Android to Google TV, a simpler and more cohesive approach to TV and streaming. It can take several years for everything to appear on the same page.

Do you still have an Android TV?

The answer is “sort”. Technically speaking, Google TV is built on the foundation of Android TV, so Google TV is changing its brand name more than anything else. In that sense, Android TV doesn’t really go anywhere.

Older Android TVs (those using Android 9.0 or earlier) use Android TV in much the same way. However, some recent Android sets from 2019 to 2020 will be upgraded to a slightly different version of Android designed to look like Google TV.

In most cases, the question is whether the TV will be updated to a fresher version of Android. Some manufacturers will push updates immediately, while others may not even be able to avoid it. If you have an older Android-based smart TV or Android TV streaming stick, you can disable automatic updates to prevent the new interface from appearing.

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