Google TV is a new software interface for internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes which bridges the divide between broadcast and online video. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Google TV is based on Google Android and like Android it can run third party apps.
The demo video gives you a good idea of what these apps will look like and how the overall Google TV user experience will look. To be honest, it doesn’t look all that different from media center software we’ve seen before, including Windows Media Center, Apple TV, or Boxee. But there are a few things that set Google’s vision apart.
Google TV is much more internet and app-driven than the latest versions of Windows Media Center. When compared with the Apple TV user experience, Google TV is a much more open platform, accepting third party apps and content. While Boxee actually offers similar capabilities, (with the exception of live television), Google is a much bigger company than Boxee and has more pull with mainstream content makers.
Does that mean Google will succeed where others have failed, finally providing a seamless internet experience to your television? The truth is, it’s not entirely clear that other companies have failed at that goal. Where everyone has failed is in convincing large numbers of consumers to use their products. Digital media devices that aren’t game consoles or DVD/Blu-ray players are still a relatively small niche, and it’s not clear whether Google TV can change that — especially when at launch you’ll only be able to get the service by shelling out $200 or more for a set top box or paying a premium for an internet-connected TV with Google TV software.
Still, I can’t help but look at the Google TV software and think we’re looking at a window to the future. Maybe not the future of TV, but perhaps the future of Google Android. Google has already stated that Android 2.2 isn’t designed for tablets and other devices larger than smartphones — but that future versions will be. Google TV is based on Android, but it’s clearly designed for large screen televisions.
You can see a few elements of the existing Android interface peeking through in the video. The image gallery, for instance, looks almost exactly like the photo gallery in Android 2.1 and up. But the overall UI is designed to scale to larger screens.
You can check out the demo video below.