Google is taking another shot at reinventing television. On Friday, the software giant said it is rolling out an updated Android Honeycomb 3.1 version of its TV service to users.
Google TV integrates Web content with TV programming. The update features a simpler interface, easier access to the company's YouTube site and other online streaming video content, and the availability of selected apps by Android developers.
'Bringing Millions of New Channels'
In a Friday posting on the official Google TV blog, two Google executives outlined the new update. Vice President for Product Management Mario Queiroz and Director of Engineering Vincent Dureau wrote that the new, post-Internet chapter of television is not about replacing cable TV, broadcast TV, or "replicating what's on TV to the Web."
Instead, they wrote, it's about "bringing millions of new channels to your TV from the next generation of creators, application developers, and networks," such as the Google-owned YouTube.
Queiroz and Dureau say that "the initial version of Google TV wasn't perfect," but the new software update is trying to move the effort forward by keeping it simple, making it easy to find something worth watching, making the YouTube experience better on TV, and bringing more apps to TV.
Google TV, announced in spring of last year, combines access to Web sites, a search engine and streaming video with a high-definition TV. Sony sells HD sets and Blu-ray players with Google TV capability, and Logitech offers a box that can enable existing hardware.
For instance, if a viewer wanted to watch Modern Family, and had seen all of the episodes available at coming airtimes or recorded to a DVR, the viewer could watch streaming versions from Web sources on the TV set -- if they're available. Other features include the ability for a user to employ an Android smartphone as a voice-recognizing remote control for the TV.
Intel and Smart TV
The software upgrade will roll out next week to Sony products that support the technology, and shortly thereafter to Logitech.
Google also has a partnership for the system with Dish Network, but so far, there are no partnerships with the major broadcast networks. Google has had difficulties with the major networks, but the company is trying to position its TV service as an added value.
Last year, several networks blocked versions of their most popular TV shows when accessed over the Web via Google TV. The shows included The Office, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Modern Family. Additionally, the popular Hulu site, which is owned by NBC, Disney and News Corp., also blocked its availability on the service.
The equipment manufactured by Sony and Logitech for Google TV are built around a version of Intel's Atom processor. But, according to a new report released Friday by market researcher iSuppli, Intel is now placing less emphasis on the development of chips for smart TVs such as Google TV.
The research firm says that market is a tough one for the chipmaker, which prefers to look to smartphones and tablets as possible growth areas.