Google TV gets updated with simpler interface, app dev tools

The search functionality and the YouTube integration also got revamped

Google TV, the company's platform for Internet-connected televisions, has gotten an upgrade designed to simplify its user interface, improve its search engine, optimize YouTube access and open it for Android app developers.

Google TV, which generally failed to wow the industry when it was first launched last year, is intended to give the company a presence in people's living rooms, where many newer televisions, game consoles, DVD players and other devices connect to the Internet.

"The initial version of Google TV wasn't perfect, but launching it gave us the opportunity to learn," wrote Google's Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management, and Vincent Dureau, director of engineering, in a blog post on Friday.

Google TV, available currently on devices from Sony and Logitech, now has a revamped user interface that the company has attempted to make simpler by giving people more flexibility to customize it.

For example, the home screen features users' "favorite" content more prominently than before, and the "apps" section consolidates all shortcuts, according to Google.

The search functionality was also revised to make it easier to find movies and TV programs across a variety of sources, including listings from users' cable or satellite provider and stand-alone video streaming vendors like Netflix, Amazon and Google's YouTube.

In addition, Google reworked the YouTube component to make it faster and easier to use, including a simplification of the process for creating user-defined YouTube channels.

Finally, Google has opened up Google TV to Android developers, who can tweak existing applications or create new ones for the platform. Already 50 developers have Google TV applications available on the Android Market.

Google TV now also runs on a newer version of Android -- version 3.1, better known as Honeycomb.

Sony devices will get the Google TV software upgrade early next week and Logitech devices "soon after," Google said. The company also has deals with Samsung and Vizio, but those vendors haven't shipped devices with Google TV yet.

Devices already out in living rooms will be upgraded remotely, requiring no work on the part of users, a Google spokesman said.

More software updates are due in the coming months, along with "new devices on new chipsets from multiple hardware partners," the blog post reads.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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