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Google TV 2.0 gains Honeycomb, Android Market

Oct 28, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Google unveiled Google TV 2.0, which will roll out on Sony TVs and Logitech Revue boxes Oct. 30. Featuring Android 3.1 (“Honeycomb”), the upgrade includes a revamped interface featuring a new customizable home screen and app shortcuts, provides hundreds of Android Market apps, and offers improved search for TV and YouTube, says the company.

Google unveiled Google TV 2.0, which will roll out on Sony TVs and Logitech Revue boxes Oct. 30. Featuring Android 3.1 ("Honeycomb"), the upgrade includes a revamped interface featuring a new customizable home screen and app shortcuts, provides hundreds of Android Market apps, and offers improved search for TV and YouTube, says the company.

Google TV 2.0 had been promised for a summer release, but in August when Google released a preview release of the Google TV add-on for the Android SDK,  it was clear the schedule had slipped. Now Google has unveiled the new 2.0 release, and says it will begin rolling out Oct. 30 — bringing with it an upgrade from the current Android 2.1 platform to Android 3.1 ("Honeycomb").


Google TV 2.0

Version 2.0 will feature better search and access to applications from the Android Market, says Google. It now includes a new customizable home screen and an "all apps" section where users can access their application shortcuts from the bottom of the screen. This is not unlike the app menu for Android phones and tablets.

The new service has better search for apps such as Netflix, YouTube Leanback, and live TV. Moreover, a new TV & Movies app lets users skim through 80,000 movies and TV shows hosted on cable, satellite, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and other source websites.


More Google TV 2.0 images, including revised search (left) and app shortcuts on bottom of screen (right)
(Click on either to enlarge)

Google is also providing users access to hundreds of apps from the company's Android Market. That includes 50 apps optimized for TV, such as Pandora, Flixster, and CNBC. However, apps requiring a touchscreen, GPS, or telephony won't be included in the early going.

YouTube rises to forefront

The bigger story here is that YouTube is going to become an increasingly more crucial component of Google TV. Already the most heavily used app on the service, YouTube has been more closely integrated with Google TV search, which allows users to put topics such as clips on cooking or music into a channel.


YouTube app on Google TV 2.0
(Click to enlarge)

As YouTube evolves into a professional broadcast platform, Google TV is being promoted as the biggest medium for the service. Users will have the opportunity to access YouTube movies, music, games and other content genres through the Chrome browser on Google TVs worldwide.

Speaking of Google TV 2.0, a YouTube spokesperson told eWEEK: "It's your one-stop shop for finding all of this great content, regardless of whether it's part of your Netflix subscription, the web, or your TV service."

The YouTube spokesperson said the 2.0 upgrade will be coming to Sony devices starting Oct. 30, with Logitech Revue boxes getting it soon thereafter. Moreover, Google plans to offer new Google TV devices on new chipsets from multiple hardware partners.

Going forward, users can also expect to see integration between Google TV and the Google+ social networking service. Think Google+ Hangouts done right on a Google TV-enabled TV equipped with a webcam.


Android Market on Google TV 2.0

(Click to enlarge)

Launched more than a year ago on Logitech Revue set-top boxes and Sony Internet TV televisions and Blu-Ray players, Google TV is the company's web TV platform, letting consumers mingle TV channel and web search. Built on Intel's Atom CE4100 system on chip, the Android-based platform includes applications such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video out-of-the box, as well as Google's Chrome Web browser to access the web.

The service was severely criticized by reviewers who felt Google TV 1.0 was too buggy and too difficult for the average user to set up. Like Apple TV and other comparable services before it, Google TV failed to gain much traction among mainstream consumers, remaining mostly a hobby for diehard Google fans. Logitech lost a lot of money on the boxes, which were discounted from $299 to $249 and finally to $99.

"The initial version of Google TV wasn't perfect, but launching it gave us the opportunity to learn," noted Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management, and Vincent Dureau, director of engineering for Google TV in his blog announcement. "This is still early days and we know it will take time to get it right — we're in a marathon, not a sprint — and with each update, we take another step forward."

It's true that it is early days for mainstream web TV, it would behoove Google to get Google TV right — and the sooner the better. Apple is reportedly working on an overhauled Apple TV that would include a full web browser and access to iCloud and the App Store. Apple's Siri virtual assistant, which is tickling users of the iPhone 4S with its artificially intelligent contextual awareness, is rumored to play a role as the focal interface for the Apple TV.

Siri could prove to be a valuable replacement for the clumsy, cartoonish remote controls for the Logitech Revue and other platforms. Fortunately, the new release also improves support for Android smartphone and iPhone interaction with Google TV.

Availability

More information may be found in this Google TV 2.0 blog announcement, and this Google TV 2.0 overview page.

Clint Boulton is a writer for eWEEK.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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