updated 11:30 am EDT, Fri October 28, 2011
Google TV Android 3.1 goes live
Google on Friday posted its long-in-waiting Google TV update. First shown back in May, the update runs on Android 3.1 and adds support for downloadable apps for the first time. While it already had built-in apps before, it now has access to new video apps, games, and other titles optimized for the TV in Android Market.
The interface itself is also now much simpler. A tray at the bottom includes both quick access to content as well as shortcuts to favorite apps. Viewers can also see widgets.
Finding media is also now much more advanced, Google said. A new TV & Movies app finds shows on both traditional TV as well as Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, and other portals. Viewers can switch on recommendations and get predictive suggestions much like they do on YouTube. Searches for YouTube keywords can e turned into channels to cover whole categories or subjects, not just individual channels.
YouTube itself is improved and is an expansion of the Leanback interface.
Updates are coming as soon as next week, starting with Sony's Internet TV line and following to the Logitech Revue. In a disappointment versus built-up expectations, however, "new devices on new chipsets" from hardware partners were only due to arrive in the "coming months."
The software is Google's second attempt at challenging digital media hubs like the Apple TV and Boxee Box and has an advantage over either in having a completely native, third-party app ecosystem. Without new hardware, however, Google and supporters are likely to hand the market to rivals during the crucial holiday period. Logitech's Revue sales were so low that it had to take a loss on price drops. Sony has never given a direct clue as to sales but has hinted the Internet TV was only a small part of its sales.