Friday, 21 May 2010 07:40

Google TV brings search to the screen


What if you could search TV shows as easily as web content? Google thinks putting Chrome inside TVs will change the way we use our televisions, as well as making the most of web-delivered video and other content.

Adding a web browser to a TV or related device isn't new, but most analogue sets didn't give a great experience due to their limited resolution. And there have been problems when non-standard (de facto or de jure) browsers were used, leading to difficulty in displaying certain pages or content.

More recently we have seen TVs with built-in support for specific online services, but that can cause discontent if only Brand X is supported but a potential or actual owner favours Brand Y.

Building a standards-based and extendible browser such as Chrome into a modern flat-screen TV has the potential to get around these issues. You can use virtually any web site, or playback practically any kind of digital media.

It seems quite possible - perhaps even probable - that Google TV was the motivation for building Adobe's Flash into recent builds of Chrome, a move that caused disquiet in some circles.

Google TV's not just about web content - please read on.

But there's more to Google TV than putting web content on the TV screen. It will be built on Android, and therefore also have the capability of running apps. Google has already provided guidelines for optimising apps for Google TV, and will subsequently release an SDK and web APIs so developers can specifically target the platform.

Furthermore, Google has plans to change the way we control the TV: "already know the channel or program you want to watch? Just type in the name and you're there. Want to check out that funny YouTube video on your 48in flat screen? It's just a quick search away. If you know what you want to watch, but you're not sure where to find it, just type in what you're looking for and Google TV will help you find it on the web or on one of your many TV channels," said Salahuddin Choudhary, Google TV product manager.

All Google TV devices will include a QWERTY keyboard.

Google TV will also support browsing standard program guides and DVRs, and the Google TV home screen "provides quick access to all of your favorite entertainment so you're always within reach of the content you love most," said Choudhary.

A demo of Google TV at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco was not flawless, and it seems that at least part of the company's motivation is to be able to deliver targeted TV ads.

The first Google TV powered TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes will come from Sony (the platform is "a very big deal" according to Sony chief executive Howard Stringer) and Logitech.

The devices will be powered by Intel Atom chips, and they are expected to go on sale in the US in three to six months time; during 2011 in other markets.


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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