Google TV Update Offers Android Remote App, Makes Netflix Usable

When I first plugged in my Logitech Revue Google TV unit, I was excited. Then, as I browsed around for the usual free content – Hulu.com, network websites like ABC or Fox – and found they were blocked from Google TV, I became a little distraught. It was only when I got to Netflix, however, that the true panic set in. This was how I would have to watch Netflix videos? By using a completely separate device to line things up in a queue before returning to my Google TV? Ludicrous!

Today Google has offered an update to the Google TV software that fixes one of the biggest problems with the service – the Netflix app – and offers a few other enhanced features to boot.

Google says that there are “four significant improvements to the platform” with today’s update, including Netflix, “Dual View”, an Android remote control app and a movies search result page. First, let’s look at Netflix.

The new Netflix app on Google TV does what you would expect Netflix to do anywhere it’s available. It allows you to search for content, suggests content according to your viewing habits, and even order DVDs for content that isn’t available streaming. In my mind, Google TV just became much less broken. Network websites aren’t available on other Internet TV devices like Roku either, but at least the Netflix app works. Now, Netflix is a fully functional version of itself on Google TV too. Phew.

As for the other features, Google TV now lets you tweak your picture-in-picture viewing, customizing the location and size of the video window. The enhanced “movies” feature brings you a separate section for movie results in your search results page, including listings from Netflix, your TV connection and Amazon Video on Demand, making it easier to find and watch content. The remote control app does exactly what you would imagine, turning your Android phone into a remote, which is probably a better and more exciting feature for hardware that isn’t the Logitech Revue, which provides a full keyboard and trackpad as its remote. Take a look at the new app in the video below.

All of those other features are great, but the simple fact that Netflix is now a usable source for content on the Google TV is the most exciting piece of news for us. According to Google, users will “start to see these updates roll out to their devices throughout the week.”

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