Google TV Revealed

SAN FRANCISCO: Google has confirmed its plans to launch TV software. The project brings Google’s Android operating system and Chrome browser into TV sets, advancing the current trend of convergence.

“This opens up your TV from a few hundred channels to millions of channels of entertainment across TV and the Web,” Google’s blog says. “Your television is also no longer confined to showing just video. With the entire Internet in your living room, your TV becomes more than a TV--it can be a photo slideshow viewer, a gaming console, a music player and much more.”

Just type in the name of a TV show, Google says, “and you’re there.”

Using a special remote with a built-in keyboard, Chrome will allow users to access TV shows and video content on traditional platforms such as cable and satellite, as well as on the Internet. A search for the TV show “Bones,” for example, will display results from Fox on Demand or for purchase from Amazon. Google TV will include Adobe Flash Player 10.1.The search giant is partnering with Sony and Intel on the TV initiative, as The New York Times first reported in March.

Sony will market the service in its new Sony Internet TV package set to launch this fall. The package comprises a Sony Bravia HDTV set with a Sony Blu-ray DVD player with Internet access. (Sony’s IP-based Blu-ray player, the BDP-N460, includes the Bravia Internet Video Platform.)

Google TV will be powered by the Intel Atom CE4100 chipset, which will also be in Logitech standalone Google TV boxes, set to hit Best Buy shelves in the fall. Dish Network, which has been beta testing the service, also said it plans to integrate Google’s TV software into all of its HD DVR receivers. Prices for the hardware or service were not disclosed.

The concept of TV-Internet convergence has been around for years, but hasn’t seen full-scale adoption. Companies like Boxee and Roku have started seeing consumer acceptance, but Web access is limited. Google’s platform would provide unencumbered access to the Internet through a television set.

Android and Chrome also are open platforms available for tweaking by developers. Google already rolled out Web site optimization for its TV platform, and will release a software development kit and APIs in the coming months. It also is currently working with two online content organizers, and Rovi. is a next-generation TV application working to provide semantic search, personalized recommendation and social features for Google TV across all sources of premium content available to the user,” Google said. “Rovi is one of the world’s leading guide applications. We’re looking forward to seeing all of the ways developers will use this new platform.”

Google was mum about its TV plans until now, even as reports emerged that Panasonic and Samsung would not adopt the platform. Bloomberg reported in April that a Panasonic executive said Android would make TVs too expensive.

Another set manufacturer announced plans to introduce Android TVs in September. People of Lava of Stora Hoga, Sweden, announced a line of Android-driven Scandinavia Television sets last month, for debut in the fall. The specs indicated that the Scandinavia sets supported only European TV formats, however, and would not be suitable for the U.S. market.
-- Deborah D. McAdams, with TV Technology