Google TV 2.0 Coming: Should You Tune In?

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Google is taking another shot at its smart TV platform with revamped software including an improved interface, a more unified view of Internet video content and the inclusion of apps from its Android operating system onto the TV platform.

After listening to customer feedback, Google TV is back with an array of new features and a much simpler interface. The company announced on its blog today (Oct. 29) that it will be unveiling the new software in the upcoming weeks.

This is Google TV’s first update since the platform – which provides access to streaming content such as YouTube and Netflix with live TV such as cable all on one platform debuted in Logitech and Sony devices last year. [Read: Reviews: Internet TVs]

Many early adapters complained about how the Google TV was complicated to use, as content was difficult to locate and the interface was inundated with too many menus.

“The initial version of Google TV wasn’t perfect, but launching it gave us the opportunity to learn,” Google said via its blog. “These are still early days, and we’re working hard to move forward with each update.”

The company’s latest updates leaves consumers wondering if it’s finally time to take the Google TV plunge.

“The software in early reviews looks a lot strong than its first version, but it’s a relatively small change and there is still a risk that the platform won’t see a lot of new development,” said Sam Rosen, a senior analyst for digital home, TV and video service at ABI Research. “It’s expected that TV manufacturers next year will use different core technologies to deliver Google TV products, so for those that buy a Google TV this season, it may be the last major update you receive.”

Manufacturers such as Sony and Logitech are expected to switch to next-generation chips in the near future, which will require new devices to be made.

Rosen noted that Google TV is still a buy-worthy product for certain tech-savvy consumers: “Google TV is targeted at a more tech-savvy crowd that wants the ability to find any Internet video rather than just a few highlights,” Rosen said.

“Meanwhile, Apple TV and Roku are great boxes to bring Internet TV services such as Netflix and to the average consumer,” he added.

The updates

Many of the Google TV software updates were largely expected, especially the prevalence of apps and an easier to use interface. Among the latest Google TV updates is a new customizable home screen that gives users access to favorite content quickly. Short cuts to apps can also be accessed similar to an Android phone or tablet. [Read: 10 Profound Innovations Ahead]

Perhaps the biggest improvement is that Android apps can now be accessed on your TV. However, the number of available apps will be limited at first since many require a touch screen and GPS accessibility. About 50 developers have already seeded the Android market with apps for the TV, the company said.

Google has also significantly improved the process of searching for content. An app called “TV & Movies” allows users to easily browse through 80,000 movies and TV episodes across cable or satellite and can predict which shows you’ll want to watch next. The app is intended to streamline the search process and make browsing faster than before.

Google TV has also breathed new life into its YouTube watching experience. In addition to being re-built specifically for the platform, Google said it’s now better integrated with search and a user can turn almost topic from mountain biking to cooking into a channel.

The software update will be coming to Sony devices starting early next week and Logitech devices soon.

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