We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Tom Simonite

A View from Tom Simonite

A Sneak Preview of Google TV

Will users embrace a TV experience that relies on a keyboard in your living room?

  • October 4, 2010

Everyone in Silicon Valley is talking about TV right now and Google just gave a preview of its own assault on this form of entertainment, which eats up 153 hours a month of American’s time. Scroll down for a short video showing it in action.

One big question mark over Google TV is whether large numbers of people will welcome a TV experience that requires a keyboard. Both Apple and Yahoo claim that all their consumer studies show that people don’t want a computer-like experience in the living room. Yet as the demo video on today’s official blog post and the new webpage for the service both show, Google TV relies heavily on typing and hence a Bluetooth keyboard.

If you have an android phone you can use voice recognition to search. My feeling is that making it possible to enter text with your smartphone rather than a keyboard would persuade more users to get over this.

Google’s other challenge is summarized in its deceptively simple slogan “the web meets TV”. Fact is that it’s not a case of just combining the two: web pages are designed to be used from 18 inches away not a few yards and so a lot of the web just can’t be good looking or usable in the living room.

The less-than-TV-optimized Amazon webpage that appears in the video embedded here is a reminder of that. After the user selects a show from the main menu they are pitched onto what looks like the regular Amazon webpage, which looks tough to use from the sofa.

From the moment it announced the product back in May, Google has been pushing tools at web designers to “help” them make versions of their pages suited to a TV screen. Today we learned that new versions of CNN, the New York Times and other sites have been created, but there’s a lot of the web out there and it will be interesting to see how much of it gets redesigned for the living room.

Google’s third challenge is content, as I noted when the service was announced in May. The owners of the real attraction of TV–great shows–are leery of the computing-centric upstarts moving into their market. Apple’s partnerships with ABC and Fox on its revamped TV product show that deals can be struck even if they represent relatively little progress towards realizing the potential of combining premium content with a connected TV. So far, though, Google has no such deals.

Even so, today Google announced that Google TV will from the start have integrated apps from Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand and Pandora, representing indirect access to the content that really makes TV work for viewers. Tie-ups with CNBC and HBO–to provide a financial news app and access to a web-based catch up service respectively–were part of today’s news. But for the moment the dream of being able to start watching any TV or movie content whenever you want it remains just that.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Premium.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look: exclusive early access to important stories, before they’re available to anyone else

    Insider Conversations: listen in on in-depth calls between our editors and today’s thought leaders

You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.