Google TV Gets Updated: New Netflix, Smartphone Control, and Features

Sections: Distributed video, Source components, Streaming, Video

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Google pushed a 200MB update to their users this morning that brings improved PiP functionality, a new PS3-esque Netflix interface, and the ability to run the box from the comfort of your phone. New enhanced Picture in Picture functionality lets you resize and move the PiP window to keep your browsing and your TV watching in perspective with your Twittering. The Netflix app has been upgraded to the HTML5 based dynamic interface like the PS3 uses, and unlike most set top boxes, GoogleTV now has full browse and search capability on your TV. Most signifigant for many people is a full featured remote app for your Android (and soon iOS) phone. Along with using your GoogleTV as a Slingbox, you can perform voice searches for content and control all the features without terminating your texting.

Google TV still has a long way to go to justify its existence, and now that Comcast is breathing down Google’s neck with similar features built into every cable box, the company’s job is going to be tougher than ever. With everyone from movie studios to Blu-ray disc manufacturers trying to put Facebook, Twitter, and Web browsers on every device they can find, I really question if Google”s time is well spent with TV. Everyone I know who uses social media does it on their phones at lightning speed, and wouldn’t want to slow down for a clumsy remote based interface. If Google really wants their products to work well with these services, concentrating on integration, to work with the apps people are running instead of replacing them, is the way to go in my book. Google is right that with widgets being an inescapable part of the new TV experience that we need a unifying system that everyone can learn and understand, and certainly we can’t judge the work in progress, but I hope that Google is flexible enough that if they are to become the Microsoft of the set top, to do what they’ve done best and push trends with better technology instead of merely better presentation.

Source: [Official Google Blog]

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