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October 28, 2011

Google revamps its TV service

Adds Android Market integration for TV-compatible apps

By Steve Evans

Google has unveiled a number of updates to its TV service in an attempt to get the product off the ground.

Google TV was first unveiled last year to generally poor reviews, according to the Financial Times. IT was considered confusing and lacking in popular content. Logitech, one of the hardware backers of the product along with Sony, was forced to drop its price to tempt users.

The updates, announced by Google on its blog, focus on a simpler user interface and greater integration with the company’s Android mobile operating system.

The home screen is now customisable so users can pull their favoured content to the fore. Google TV version 2.0 also includes an "all apps" button that pulls together all of a user’s shortcuts, similar to the feature on an Android smartphone or tablet, Google said.

It has also introduced an app called "TV & Movies" that lets a user search through all the content on offer from broadcasters like Live TV, Netflix, YouTube and HBO GO. It also features better integration with Google-owned YouTube.

Perhaps the biggest update is tighter integration with Android Honeycomb – the operating system designed specifically for tablets – and enabling access to Android Market. Users can now download TV-compatible applications to their Google TV device. Initially the selection will be small with any app that requires a touch screen, GPS, or telephony not available.

Google claims 50 developers have already got apps ready to download in the Android Market, and expects that figure to grow.

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"The Internet marks a new chapter for television. This chapter is not about replacing broadcast or cable TV; it’s not about replicating what’s on TV to the Web. It’s about bringing millions of new channels to your TV from the next generation of creators, application developers and networks," said Mario Queiroz, vice president product management, and Vincent Dureau, director of engineering in a blog post.

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

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