Google Inc. wants to bring the Internet to your television screen.
The Internet giant unveiled a new platform called Google TV that it says "will change the future of television" during the company's developer conference Thursday in San Francisco. Google is putting its Android software and Chrome Web browser on television and other home entertainment devices in an attempt to succeed where others have struggled: in merging television and the Internet.
Google TV will be available on television sets, Blu-ray players and companion set-top boxes through partnerships with Intel Corp. and Sony Corp. Special “input devices” will include a keyboard and remote-control-type pointing device.
The first devices will be available in the fall in time for the holiday shopping season.
“As other technologies have evolved and changed, TV has remained the same," Rishi Chandra, the project leader, told 5,000 developers gathered for the conference in San Francisco. "Video should be consumed on the biggest, best and brightest screen in the house and that is a TV."
Google is pitching its new platform as an easy way to search for television programming and Internet content without having to navigate slow on-screen directories. Instead users can pull down a search box to find what they are looking for on television and the Web. Search for "House" and you get all the episodes available on USA and Fox as well as on Hulu.com and for purchase on Amazon.com. That way, the TV becomes “a natural extension of the Web itself,” Chandra said.
Some examples that Google offered of what consumers can do with Google TV: If you miss the State of the Union speech, you can search for it on Google TV, find it on Whitehouse.gov and play the video on your television. You can put an NBA game in picture-in-picture mode and check out the box score while you are watching. During "American Idol," you can follow discussion about the show on Twitter. Users can also watch YouTube videos on their televisions, even beaming them to the screen from their Android phone.
Personally, I'm ready for any alternative to my local cable company's monopoly that isn't dependent on a tiny satellite dish on my house, which gets blocked by passing aircraft and thunderstorms - the latter of which is when I really need TV access. I pay too much and get too little in return for TV now. This could be a nice alternative.
From what I understand, Google TV is meant to organize preexisting content on the web, more so than actually delivering it. So, for example, I can watch The Daily Show from Comedy Central's site (brought to me from search) on Google TV, but it doesn't broadcast content per se like a cable channel could. I don't think their product is revolutionary, as Apple TV has been around for a while now, but the difference is they appear to be more aggressive in pushing this through partners than Apple ever was. There's a product called Boxee which basically does the same thing too, which acts like a set-top box of sorts for all your Internet multimedia services. However, I do see this as being a watershed year for the meshing of Internet applications with what you see on TV.
That said, I can't wait for the day until I can watch any football, erm, soccer game live through Internet streaming, get the same quality as I would with cable TV, and not having to pay a ton just to receive that one channel. It would be cool to get proper BBC UK and Sky Sports directly too.
I'm really excited about this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I think this looks to be unique in that as Artful Dodger pointed out that this product is bringing a lot of the powers in consumer electronics and multimedia together to collaborate on their innovations. I don't think this is identical to the Boxee or PS3 or any media center. This has a lot more of the "big picture" integrated into its framework.
I don't know all of the details yet, but there are a few features that I am very interested in. I like that it won't just be a set-top box that has access to Netflix, Hulu, etc...I like how it plans to incorporate seamless integration and have the internet work with your current TV/Cable configuration. I, like most of us on here, enjoy sports and I like how I can access the stats to a game in real-time without getting on to my computer or waiting for the broadcast itself to show the stats on the screen. If I want to know view the current box score of the Angels vs. White Sox game, I can pull it up on the screen with the push of a button while still having video of the game on the screen.
Also, this may eliminate the need for a DVR if I can access hulu or the networks websites easily. Does the Logitech set-top box come with a hard-drive? If so, I would love to connect it to my HD Cable box and save the $20 a month I pay for the HD DVR box. Through Google TV Search or an app I can have a user interface to record and view a tv guide. This can save me a lot of money. I don't know if this is even the case with the set-top box, but I don't see why it can't be incorporated or why I can't attach a hard-drive to it and through an app make it a simple reality. The fact that this allows for apps is amazing as Android's framework is open source so a lot of talented and smart people will have the endless and limitless ability to create amazing possibilities.
More than anything Google drawing the line in the proverbial sand and going to war with Apple, with the help of some friends (Adobe, Sony, etc). Apple has really screwed themselves in my opinion with their stance on Flash and Adobe. Apple is beginning to get complacent and a little full of themselves in my opinion (I own a Mac and an iPhone) and doing what Facebook is doing, controlling the content we can use. Google and others are smart and allowing people to have access to their proprietary ideas, and letting people have at it and creating amazing products. Their Android OS on cellphones is really taking off and actually taking a big bite out of Apple's dominance and they're only gaining steam. I am actually trading in my iPhone next month for the EVO because I feel very limited in my viewable content on the iPhone, especially Flash. I pay way too much money a month on my phone to be forced by Apple to have restricted access to apps and functionality. I think it's only a matter of time until Google refines their OS and workout deals with the major computer manufacturers, much like Windows in the late 80's/early 90's and have a big stake in the PC game.
One thing we can all agree on is that the only thing this does is benefit the consumer who only benefits from all of the competition generating amazing products.
You have no frame of reference, Donny. You're like a child who walks into the middle of a movie...
Phatferd wrote:I'm really excited about this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I think this looks to be unique in that as Artful Dodger pointed out that this product is bringing a lot of the powers in consumer electronics and multimedia together to collaborate on their innovations. I don't think this is identical to the Boxee or PS3 or any media center. This has a lot more of the "big picture" integrated into its framework.
No, it isn't identical, because the big thing Google has in its favor is search. The fact that Google is practically second to none in organizing information means we're likely to see a more user-friendly way of organizing and playing content on TV.
Phatferd wrote:More than anything Google drawing the line in the proverbial sand and going to war with Apple, with the help of some friends (Adobe, Sony, etc). Apple has really screwed themselves in my opinion with their stance on Flash and Adobe. Apple is beginning to get complacent and a little full of themselves in my opinion (I own a Mac and an iPhone) and doing what Facebook is doing, controlling the content we can use. Google and others are smart and allowing people to have access to their proprietary ideas, and letting people have at it and creating amazing products. Their Android OS on cellphones is really taking off and actually taking a big bite out of Apple's dominance and they're only gaining steam. I am actually trading in my iPhone next month for the EVO because I feel very limited in my viewable content on the iPhone, especially Flash. I pay way too much money a month on my phone to be forced by Apple to have restricted access to apps and functionality. I think it's only a matter of time until Google refines their OS and workout deals with the major computer manufacturers, much like Windows in the late 80's/early 90's and have a big stake in the PC game.
As far as Android goes, it still doesn't have Apple beat as far as ease of use and UI intuitiveness go. Some Flash sites on Android don't work with Flash Lite, but could with Android 2.2 out which has an upgraded Flash plugin. Android is gaining momentum, but iPhone isn't going anywhere either, especially with the new iPhone coming out some time this year or next year (methinks).
Google is still a search company at heart. Anything they do that's data-intensive, that's their strength. I don't believe they have a truly great handle in other applications where leveraging search isn't the focus or the raison d'etre of that product. For example, Orkut, Wave, and Buzz were flops. Chrome, the browser, is terrific and I think that's the best non-search-leveraged product they've created to date.
I think Andriod 2.2 will bridge the gap for Flash on mobileOS. Youtube is owned by Google, so I can see Adobe who is partnering with Google and will likely want to have Google's support since Apple has made it public what they think about Adobe. Due to this, I can see them and Google developing a strong relationship and Google supporting flash in favor of HTML5. Google just opened WebX to the world, so I think they understand the importance of allowing the masses to work on their framework. It just opens the door to a lot of innovation and ingenuity.
Yes, Google has had flops, but they have also had success and the Android OS is in my opinion at this moment a better mobileOS. and where I think they are getting it right is they are not trying to get into these other realms alone. Yes, they are the masters of data intensive applications, but they realize this and are attacking their biggest competition with the help of other powerhouses. Google isn't trying to get into the hardware realm, they are leveraging their financial power and resources with Sony and Logitech to handle all of the hardware. I'm sure other companies are willing to jump on board. Apple on the other hand is too stubborn to partner with someone else to try and make a product that is overall better for the consumer. Trust me, I have an iPhone and a MacBook Pro, I love Apple, but I strongly disagree with them on the entire Flash issue and don't care for their iPhone OS. What angers me as a consumer with Apple is they are telling me who pays over $100 a month for service (I know ATT has a say in this) that I can't use certain apps,and my hardware is limited as is my software. I can't replace the battery or expand my memory without buying the newest phone. I am happy this is happening because it only creates competition and that benefits us as the consumer.
You have no frame of reference, Donny. You're like a child who walks into the middle of a movie...
Curtis Pride wrote:Didn't Microsoft try this like 10 years ago?
I never had WebTV, but I remember it being around about 15 years ago. The reason why it failed and why Google TV can succeed all has to do with timing. WebTV came around a time when the Internet as a mainstream medium was new. Everyone and their mothers had AOL because it was the easiest way to access and make best use of the Internet. Most folks grew out of it when DSL and cable became the new standard of connections and by that time, they didn't need a closed wall system like AOL to present the Internet in nice little chunks. There was also little to no interaction between Internet content and TV, which made WebTV useless. Now that we have Youtube, other video content, and more dynamic Internet apps, there's a bridging of the gap between the two ecosystems where they can be one in the same now. This was the vision of say, 15-20 years ago, finally put together.
Not to say Google TV won't end up like WebTV because it certainly could. The big obstacle is the content providers (ABC, NBC, FOX, etc.) because content is king. They're still the gatekeepers to a truly open web TV experience and the progress really depends on them. It's agonizingly slow to come to term sheets with networks and studios and not all want to see the cable system take a step back or die altogether, because they make a lucrative cut from such a business model. I doubt Google TV becomes what DivX has become, a superb video format that's embedded on a number of devices, but can't go anywhere because the content for some reason or other isn't there. It might end up like that, or even a hobbyist product like Apple TV, which comes to mind if Steve Jobs is ever serious about taking Apple TV to the next level, he does have the partnerships with content makers to extend iTunes onto television as well. Google has those partnerships as well with Youtube, but content providers are still somewhat peeved that folks will find a way to upload copyright-infringing material anyway (even if Youtube has done a better job of screening it).
I can already watch Netflix, Youtube, downloaded movies, etc on my HDTV. What really excites me is the ability to use my smartphone as a remote control.
There's an Android app called GMote that allows for this, I've had it for a while. It's not just a novelty either, it's actually useful, and you can stream audio to your phone over wi-fi from your home network. At my friend's house, I loaded the GMote program on his laptop and controlled it from the couch with my phone while the AV was plugged into his HDTV. Has volume controls, fast forward, rewind, all that jazz right on the device, which makes any Android phone a touch-screen remote, essentially.