Google TV Reborn
Google TV, once known as the Google Play Movies & TV app saw the light of the day towards the end of September 2020.
It should not be confused with Google TV which was launched in 2010 and saw its demise in 2014, after failing to wrest power from cable TV stations in its bid to popularise web TV.
The new Google TV is actually an app for smartphones used to rent movies or watch video content you’ve signed for through other platforms. Especially if you’ve signed up for a service like Movies Anywhere, This service allows you to watch movies across many platforms and apps.
This feature was available on Google Play Movies & TV Play Movies.
Chromecast with Google TV
Google TV is powered by Chromecast, the dongle which allows you to cast streaming video or stream videos directly.
It is called Chromecast with Google TV to differentiate it from the previous versions of the dongle.
The Chromecast dongle, priced at $50, is currently the only way to access Google TV.
TV and set-top box manufacturers are expected to incorporate Google TV into their latest devices. Sony, for example, has said its future Bravia TVs will include Google TV and TCL has also plans to do so.
The manufacturers who’re likely to adopt Google TV are those who’re already offering Android TV, Google’s TV operating system.
Google is also rolling out Google TV on Android smartphones.
The Engine Behind Google TV
Knowledge Graph, Google Assistant, and machine learning form the backbone of Google TV.
The whole idea behind it is discovery. Users should not be pulling their hair deciding what to watch.
Google spent time learning how folks look for video content, ranging from title and genre searches.
Based on their findings, they made improvements to their Knowledge Graph, which is used to organize multimedia content into topics and genres. This also makes visible content that’s trending on Google search, so that users don’t miss out on timely, relevant content.
With Google TV, navigation is a breeze. For a family viewing experience, it may not tick the important boxes.
You can’t create user profiles for each family member as you can with Netflix or Amazon Prime. The same recommendations will be served to everyone.
Google TV’s Standout Strength
The standout strength of the refurbished Google TV is its power to aggregate and organize video content from diverse sources.
It replaces the Google Play Movies & TV app which aggregated content from different services. However, the app wasn’t popularly used.
With this latest version of Chromecast, it’s very easy to watch your preferred shows. All you have to do is move the arrow keys up, down, left, and right with your remote control and take your pick.
The whole set up is powered by search together with Google Assistant.
What You Need to Get Started with Google TV
Once you get your Google TV device, either the latest Chromecast or a Google TV-ready Smart TV you just need to have the following to get started:
A Google account, the Google Home app on your smartphone or mobile device and a wireless Internet connection.
What Channels Do You Get with Google TV?
Google TV supports the following streaming services. These services were announced during the platform’s launch.
Google’s streaming services like YouTube TV and also Google TV formerly known as Play Movies are supported.
Other services supported, are listed in alphabetical order, below. The list is expected to expand in the days to come.
- Amazon Prime Video
- Comedy Central
- DC Universe
- Disney NOW
- Epix Now
- Fox Now
- Google Play Movies (now Google TV)
- HBO Go
- HBO Max
- Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access)
- Pluto TV
- Showtime Anytime
- Sling TV
- The CW
- Tubi TV
- YouTube TV
Apple TV app was added to Google TV in February 2021.
Google TV’s Watchlist
A prominent feature of Google TV is its Watchlist. This feature has already been introduced in Google Search since early 2020, to help you keep tabs on movies and TV shows that may interest you.
You don’t need to be in front of your TV to add movie or TV show titles to your Google TV watchlist.
You can do it anywhere through your Chrome browser.
Whatever you add into the Watchlist in Google Search can now be incorporated into Google TV through the app and on your television.
Say you add a movie or TV show to the Watchlist through your smartphone. It will appear on your TV when you turn it on.
What’s more, Google will offer suggestions based on what you compile on your Watchlist.
Isn’t that a cool feature if you’re into binge watching movies and TV shows?
Google TV’s Home Screen Experience
With Google TV you get a new Home screen experience. Functioning as a video content aggregrator, Google TV will show you recommendations based on your preferences, pulling them from streaming services you’ve signed up for.
During the setup stage, using the Google Home app, you’ll be prompted to choose the streaming services you’ve subscribed to. This will help you customize your Home screen for Google TV recommendations.
Google TV vs Android TV
Android TV is a smart TV operating system. It works with media sticks and set-top boxes, among others.
Google TV, on the other hand, can be regarded as a software extension. In other words, it’s a software skin over the Android operating system.
Google TV seeks to enhance the Android TV experience by being more intuitive and user-friendly. In other words, Google TV adds an extra ‘brain’ to Android TV.
Android TV runs on Android 9.0.
Google TV is powered by Android 10.
What this means is your smart TV must be running Android 10 if you’re to access Google TV
New Smart Televisions that Support Google TV
If you don’t fancy using Chromecast to access Google TV and are in the market for a new TV set, check out the following offerings.
Sony is a top supporter of Google TV. It has been adopting Android Tv since 2015. Starting March 2021, it has been rolling out TVs with Google TV integration.
Three Bravia models, in particular stand out :