As part of its annual I/O 2010 conference, Google has demonstrated its new Google TV service for high-definition television that will transform the TV into a combined TV/web experience using Android and Chrome technologies.
With a combination of hardware and software that integrates the cable/satellite set top box with the web and pulls in video, websites, social networking and Android apps, Google TV promises to bring the full power of the web and Google’s firepower onto the TV screen.
Google TV – the hardware
To get Google TV working in your living room, you will need a broadband connection, a HDMI cable to connect to your cable/satellite set top box, and plenty of processing power – this processing power will come via a special Google TV box or through the new TVs coming on stream that will have Google TV already built in.
Google TV – the software
The technology that Google TV is built on is what it already uses for our current web experience: Google Search and Chrome plus the Android operating system and Flash video technology.
This brings us to the exciting bit: while Google has several partners that will be working on input devices in the form of a wireless keyboard plus pointing device combo, the other pointing device that can be used is an Android smartphone.
As Google TV is built using Android 2.1, you can connect your handset via Bluetooth and use it as a point device.
Google is also publishing the IP remote protocol so that apps can be built for smartphone and other devices to interact with Google TV.
More Android news: Android Market is also fully accessible through your TV, and apps including Twitter, Facebook, etc, can be downloaded and installed.
What does Google TV do?
For starters, you have instant access to all your favourite channels through integrated Google search.
If you type in a TV series such as House, not only do you get results for when it is playing next on your cable/satellite service with one-click recording, but there will also be general web search results, so if House is streaming free on the web or available to download through a service like Netflix or Amazon, you can go straight there and watch instantly – or head to YouTube to watch clips, or view the official House website for series info.
If you’re watching a TV programme and want to search the web without changing, you can have screen in screen.
“I’ve pulled up a series result – what it does is pull together all different content coming on TV and on the web. One of the great things over the last few years is full episodic content, whether for free or paid via Amazon. As a user, it doesn’t matter where I get my favourite content from,” said Rishi Chandra of Google.
“I can record it in the future on TV or go directly to Amazon.com. The transition from web to TV was seamless. The web became a natural extension of the TV itself.”
“With one button I can switch right back to live TV but just like that the TV and web became a single experience,” explained Chandra.
Browsing on Google TV
“There are times when I don’t know what to search for, I just want to lean back and browse. The Google TV home screen is a quick launcher to all favourite content and applications,” explained Chandra.
A new YouTube service called LeanBack was also introduced; created specially for Google TV and designed to play instantly and pull in recommended content as well as content that your friends like – a YouTube especially for those watching TV from their living room sofa.
“The web is unlimited and now your TV is unlimited, as well,” said Chandra.
By Marie Boran