The Internet is coming to a TV near you.
Google unveiled a new platform today called Google TV at their developer conference in San Francisco that it says “will change the future of television.” Google’s move into the living room should come as no surprise given the amount of time we all spend consuming video through our mobile phone or computer. Google TV brings everything you love about the Web onto your TV.
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Sounds familiar, right? Google admits that it’s not the first to enter a space where many have failed to mash together the Internet and television. But the integration of Android and the Chrome browser are what set Google TV apart from others.
Google TV will be built into televisions and available through companion set-top boxes and Blu-ray players from the likes of Sony and Logitech this fall. Logitech has been working with Google on GTV for 12 months, says Eric Kintz, VP & GM of Logitech’s video business group. Logitech will offer what they call a “companion” set-top box that enables the Google TV software to run on existing television sets as well as new Harmony remote bundles that have integrated Google TV shortcuts. Logitech’s companion set-top box will also enable video calling and what Logitech’s VP of products Junien Labrousse calls “social tv.” They also plan to release a Harmony app for the Android and iPhone platform to work with Google TV.
Google TV eradicates the tedious task of searching for TV shows with a simple drop down search box that searches your local television programming as well as Internet content. For example, search for “House” with Google TV and you’ll get results from FOX, USA, and Amazon.
The transition from Web to TV and vice versa is seamless so the experience will be the same whether you’re flipping through channels or searching for something in Chrome. There’s even Picture-in-Picture functionality that allows you to watch a movie through your local cable provider while checking box scores from ESPN.com, for example. You can even push content that you’re viewing on your Android device to your TV as well.
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What’s more impressive is the on-the-fly translation with automatic subtitles in the language of your choice. Other Google products like Listen and Picasa will also be integrated into Google TV.
The crux, though, isn’t that Google has enabled users to access Internet content on your TV because we’ve been able to do that through things like the PS3 (web browser) and Xbox (Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm). It’s the fact that they’re enabling things like Flash where Apple has been adamant about its demise. Google TV will more than likely push Apple to do something with Apple TV as well. I wonder how Apple will respond. I mean, there were plenty of snide remarks from folks like Howard Stringer aimed directly at Apple.
Sounds great but will consumers latch onto this new service when it launches in the fall? It’s certainly a compelling service that seems simple and useful. Me? I can’t wait to get my hands on a set-top box.
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