- Google is upgrading TV with Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system
- Android Market will open up a variety of applications, with the promise of more
- Google also hinted at future software updates (Ice Cream Sandwich, anyone?)
Google TV had such potential when it launched in October 2010. But for many users, the lack of Hulu -- along with the awkwardness of the interface and lack of cooperation from TV networks and content providers -- was a huge turnoff.
Now Google aims to fix that with a massive overhaul, upgrading Google TV with its Android operating system.
Google announced on its Google TV blog Friday that the platform will be upgraded to Android 3.1 (otherwise known as Honeycomb) for Sony devices Sunday, with the Logitech Revue set-top box getting its upgrade "soon thereafter."
What will you get with this software upgrade to Android? Google says it's "much simpler." Its customization capabilities will go a long way toward alleviating the awkwardness of its first iteration, which Google admits was "not perfect."
And the addition of the Android Market will open up a variety of applications, with the promise of more -- perhaps thousands more -- on the way.
One welcome improvement will be an easier ability to search across all the TV shows at your disposal. With this update, Google's trying to answer that age-old question, "What's on?" If Google can pull that off, it could be a powerful thing indeed.
The company says it has learned from its mistakes with the first version of Google TV and is "committed to find the best way to discover and engage with the high-quality entertainment on your television." So does that mean Google TV will be able to find all the shows from whichever cable or satellite provider you're subscribing to, or from the web via all of the apps within Google TV, such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and HBO Go? Maybe. Of course, Google plans to improve Google TV's search across YouTube, its own video streaming service.
In the blog post, Google also hinted at future software updates (Ice Cream Sandwich, anyone?) and new devices "on new chipsets from multiple hardware partners." Hey, this is getting interesting.
We'll have to reserve judgment until we can install this software update on our Logitech Revue box, but for now, clearly this update has great potential. It makes perfect sense for Google -- purveyor of Android, the Chrome browser, YouTube and by the way, the world's search expert -- to leverage these powerful capabilities in its TV set-top.
The hurdle Google needs to navigate is not so much a technical or software one, but a matter of negotiating and arm-twisting of content providers. Will the company gain cooperation from TV networks and movie studios, allowing their content to be searchable on the Google TV platform? That's the key to Google TV's success.