It's been quiet for some time in the Google TV camp, however, yesterday they released the all new, fully updated version of the interface. In a blog post at the Google TV site they talked about all the new changes and features and what it means for consumers. So you read on, I'm going to order a box now (unless they want to just send one for free).
The New & Improved Google TV
Google TV has finally received the sorely needed UI and content update. After a rocky start that saw all manner of weird things, like a 66% price drop on the Logitech Google TV units, and critics panning the UI for being too complex and not all that great (while our own Mark Robertson loves his), it now seems that they have listened to the punters and took it all as constructive, which it really wasn't at times.
Here's a look at the new features courtesy of Mario Queiroz, Vice President Product Management, and Vincent Dureau, Director of Engineering at Google TV.
1. Keep it simple
The interface is now much simpler. The new customizable home screen gets you to your favorite content quickly. And within "all apps" you can see all of your shortcuts, similar to your Android phone or tablet.
2. Make it easy to find something worth watching
We've improved search across the board for content from Live TV, Netflix, YouTube, HBO GO, and more. But what if you don't know what to search for? There's now an app called "TV & Movies" that let's you easily browse through 80,000 movies and TV episodes across cable or satellite, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and many other sites. If you've opted in to recommendations, we can better predict what you want to watch next.
3. Make YouTube better on TV
We're launching a new YouTube experience specifically built for Google TV. It is now fast and easy to get to your favorite HD-quality YouTube entertainment. And we've integrated YouTube more closely with Google TV search, so that you can turn virtually any topic – mountain biking, cooking, etc. – into a channel.
4. Bring more apps to TV
We are opening up the TV to the creativity of content creators large and small through Android Market. Android developers can now bring existing mobile apps or entirely new ones to TV. Initially, the number of apps won't be large – apps requiring a touch screen, GPS, or telephony won't show up – but 50 developers have seeded the Market with cool and useful apps for the TV. We're excited to see the number of apps grow.
This software update will be coming to Sony devices starting early next week and Logitech devices soon thereafter. We look forward in the coming months to announcing new software updates as well as new devices on new chipsets from multiple hardware partners.
So it's not available on all devices just yet, but it's in progress. Looking at the screens it certainly looks much improved and now more like a connected TV interface than a web browser crammed onto a TV screen. Some time ago I had written about best practices for making your apps look their best on Google TV. Well it seems that Google TV actually used their own best practices with this new interface.
Finally, one thing that caught my eye in the video is the viewing options. It combines upcoming airings with multiple purchase and rental options. That is awesome! It only shows YouTube and Amazon but hopefully they'll continue to tie in other Internet TV offerings because you might be able to simply view it through your existing Netflix, Hulu, or other account, like UltraViolet. Wouldn't that just make Google TV the ultimate? It might even save you money as you could have not known that you had access to the film and were ready to purchase it.