Google announced a new Internet TV product called Google TV. As we noted at the time, the most interesting aspect of the announcement was the developer ecosystem that Google is introducing to television. Google TV will not just allow you to view television programs and online video content, it'll also give you access to Internet TV applications built using Google's mobile operating system Android.In May,
Google is positioning itself as an Internet TV platform, despite not offering a hardware component like Apple TV and Microsoft Mediaroom. Instead, Google has partnered with electronics giant Sony on the hardware side. Google TV launches in the fall inside a new line of Sony TVs, so let's look at what we can expect to see.
In May, Sony announced a special television that will have Google TV integrated. Called the Sony Internet TV, it will be sold in Best Buy stores in the U.S. this fall. In announcing its alliance with Google, Sony noted that the two companies will also look "to establish new forms of cloud-based user experiences."
The partnership is very much a win-win. Google gets to launch its software on probably the most well known TV brand. Meanwhile Sony clearly hopes to get a jump on its hardware rivals, attempting to create the next generation of television on the back of Google's platform.
Android Developer Platform For TV
As noted above, Google TV is built on the Android OS. It will also rely heavily on Google's Chrome browser, which will be very similar to the computer version of Chrome.
The developer platform is the crucial part of Google TV. It shows that Google is serious about wanting to innovate and change the way television is consumed (and perhaps in turn produced). This quote from the Google Blog in May is key to understanding what Google is aiming for: "your TV becomes more than a TV -- it can be a photo slideshow viewer, a gaming console, a music player and much more."
When Google TV launches inside the new Sony TVs, Google will release the Google TV SDK and web APIs for TV. This will enable developers to build applications, which will then be distributed through Android Market from "early 2011." Already Google is working with selected partners, so expect to see initial application offerings in fall of this year.
Google's developer website for Google TV is currently focused on how content providers should optimize for TV. The site both states the obvious ("content is king") and offers solid practical advice for Internet TV developers ("sound is now a viable interface element").
Clicker: The Type of App We Will See
So what kind of applications can we expect from Google TV? Perhaps an indicator of what's to come is an app that we've reviewed on ReadWriteWeb several times: Clicker. Billed as a "TV Guide for the Internet" when it launched in November, Clicker is essentially a browser-based portal for your TV. Clicker enables you to search for online TV programs, subscribe to them, watch them inside the site, and more. It also has an iPhone app, but Clicker will really come into its own when used on the likes of Google TV.
Clicker was one of the feature third party apps at Google's May I/O, where Google TV was announced. At the event, Clicker launched Clicker.tv - an HTML5-based interface for Clicker, optimized for the "10-foot viewing experience" on a TV. While this is not an example of an Android-based app (it's basically an enhanced web site), Clicker will likely be one of the first third party apps off the block when Google TV apps become available in the Android Store in early 2011.
What other types of apps do you expect to be built off the Google TV platform?