Google TV, the name sounds good. But, do you know that Google has used the name twice? The first time was when it released in 2010 at the launch of the original smart TV platform from Logitech, Intel, and Sony.
Yes, Android TV was earlier known as Google TV in those days. The name has returned but in a new avatar as a platform launched in September 2020 when it made its appearance on the Chromecast with Google TV streamer.
The Google TV is available in select Sony Bravia TVs. There would be more in the coming months.
So, the question on everyone’s mind is whether Google TV is another name for Android TV. The answer is an emphatic NO. Though it sits on top of the Android 10 OS, it is different from Android TV in many ways. So, that clears the deck for a comparison between Google TV and Android TV.
Google TV – The Difference
Google TV comes with a much-improvised user interface with specific recommendations and other interesting features. Here is a tabular comparison of Google TV and Android TV.
|Features||Android TV||Google TV|
|Operating System||The latest Android OS v10||Android OS v10|
|App Content||Access Google PlayStore and also sideload apps from other app providers||Similar to Android TV as you can access Google PlayStore and download apps It also allows sideloading of apps similar to Android TV.|
|Recommendations||Available, but on a limited scale||It benefits from Google’s Machine Learning, Google Assistant, and Google’s Knowledge graph to understand your viewing habits and suggest suitable recommendations.|
|Home Screen||A user-friendly home screen||It is different from Android TV as it offers a detailed and personalized ‘For You’ app|
|Library Section||A simple section that shows your watchlists||The Google TV’s Library section is similar to Netflix, where you can add movies to your watch list and curate it.|
|Google Assistant||Available for searching content||Used for searching content and also setting up the TV with the remote by using Google Home App|
|Settings||Clogged and unimaginative with annoying options||A simplified and user-friendly experience|
|Availability||Android TV OS is available on Sony, Sharp, Hisense, NVidia, TCL, and other brands.||Google TV is available on the new Chromecast. It is also available for Android app. Sony offers Google TV in India, and TCL TVs will come soon.|
Related: Android TV vs WebOS vs Tizen OS
The New Google Chromecast
Before we go into Google TV, let us briefly discuss the new Chromecast device. It has a sleek appearance and fits into your TV’s HDMI port.
It looks cool and is an excellent alternative to your Amazon Fire TV Stick. It supports 4K, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos.
The new Chromecast feature gets a stylish remote with minimalistic buttons. In addition, the compact size makes it convenient to carry and use it.
Google TV Setup
Now, coming to Google TV, the first thing that strikes you is the refreshing starting animation. It looks cool and inviting.
Setting up Google TV is seamless as it uses the Google Home app to do so. All that you do is scan the QR code to connect to the Wi-Fi and sign in to the Google account. Now, you can search for the TV apps, set up the ambient mode, and choose your subscriptions.
Google TV User Interface
You get a brand new Google TV UI with a new appearance and options as you finish the setup. Compared to the Android TV UI, where the apps take up the entire screen, the Google TV UI looks different with a new set of options.
One must say that the Google TV UI looks refreshingly better than the Android TV in almost every way.
For You – An innovative tab
The For You option is a new one, not present in the earlier Android TV OS. This app brings you recommendations from various platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+, and many more.
Unfortunately, personal recommendations are not yet available in all countries.
As you scroll down, you get a range of content info like My apps, trending content on Google, and specified categories like drama, crime, comedy, Bollywood movies, TV shows, and many more.
For example, the Popular Movie Shows option is good because it lists out the popular movies available on different platforms on a single screen to enable you to access them directly.
The Manage Services button is a new feature as it allows you to disable or enable the apps from where you are getting these recommendations. Another exciting feature is the Tomato Meter that displays the percentage of positive professional critical reviews for a specific film or television show.
Google TV has options to offer your suggestions to the recommendations by adding them to the watchlist, marking the content as watched, and indicating your likes/dislikes for the specific content.
Related: HDR10 vs HDR 10 Plus vs Dolby Vision
Search – A seamless experience
The Search Tab is a good option as it provides suggestions on how to use the Google Assistant on Google TV. Besides, you can also find recommendations in various categories like Action Movies, Comedy Movies, Kid TV Shows, and other content.
Movies and Shows – See what’s available
The Movies and Shows Tabs are similar to that available on Android TV. They offer recommendations on movies and TV shows available on different apps, like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, YouTube, etc.
Apps – Browse and add to your collection
The Apps Tab provides information on all apps installed on your TV and those available for you to download and install. You can browse these apps by choosing the respective category. In simple words, it is a representation of the Google PlayStore on a single screen.
Library – Manage your preferences
The Library App is where you can manage your purchases and rentals. On the right, you have the window that allows you to create your profile and get notifications from different platforms.
Compared to the Android TV OS, everything in the UI appears modern and sophisticated. But, most importantly, the Settings page has got the much-needed revamping.
Settings Page – Sets the Google TV apart from Android TV
If you are familiar with Android TV settings, you will notice that it is a one-dimensional and clogged setting that is annoying to use. You have to go inside each setting to look up what is available. In addition, you cannot switch over to the next setting without coming out of the existing option.
Google TV is different because it offers a dual-pane view, with the left side displaying the primary settings and the right side detailing what is available in it. As you scroll to the right, it opens up another pane to show the sub-settings available in a specific setting option. Hence, it becomes convenient to manage your Google TV settings.
Related: HD vs Full HD vs 4K vs 8K
The settings offer an App Only mode that removes all the recommendations and converts the TV screen into a simple UI that displays the apps alone. It also offers additional options on the Display and Sound settings like the HDMI CEC option, enabling you to control and manage all the connected devices with a single remote.
The Match Content option allows you to understand whether your TV supports the dynamic range of the movies or shows you are watching. The Advanced Display Settings enable you to activate the game mode and choose different resolutions and refresh rates to suit your preferences.
Google TV also offers you the choice between automatic and manual sound system settings. The Automatic mode is the recommended option, but you can choose the Manual mode to enable Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, AAC, Dolby Atmos, etc.
Another advantage is that you can check out the battery levels available on your remote and change them when they start draining out.
Google TV offers similar features to Fire TV Stick as it allows you to set up external sound systems like soundbars, home theaters, etc. In addition, you can check up the list of manufacturers that are compatible with the soundbar you use. Though it is not an exhaustive list, Google TV will be updating it regularly.
Google TV – What it lacks
Google TV has excellent features, but it overlooks a significant aspect. It does not have a well-defined user profile like that available on Netflix, Prime Video, or other platforms. As a result, every individual using your Google TV will receive similar recommendations in a specific geographic location.
Related: Types of TV Screens
Whether Google TV is the same as Android TV? – Is it replacing Android TV?
By now, it should be clear that Google TV is different from Android TV, despite working on top of the same Android TV 10 OS. Google TV is not replacing Android TV in any way. It is more of a launcher or a UI makeover of Android TV. If you go through the specifications, you will notice that it works on the same Android TV OS Version 10.
Is Google TV ‘Old Wine in a New Bottle?’ First, though the initial reviews suggested it to be so, Google TV is very different from Android TV. Secondly, it is not a replacement for Android TV. Instead, it provides a refreshing user interface and enhances the user experience to the next level.
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Srinivasa is Vsbytes’s Editor-In-Chief. He Is A Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert And Has Been Interested In Computer Hardware, Software, And Gaming Right Since The Time He Was A Child.