first_imgGoogle has always been the type of company to release a product in beta and let their audience help them fine tune it. This practice worked great when the products were all free. After all, how could you complain about something that’s free? When the products started to cost money, and not insignificant amounts of money either, the charm of a product being “beta” wore off for many users. A prime example of this is the failed launch of Google TV last year.Here was a great opportunity to really take over living room — Google’s “use the largest screen in the house” idea really spoke to me. I happily bought my Logitech Revue, rigged it to my Tivo and stood in amazement… as the rest of the broadcasting world seemed to block Google TV from accessing their content. To make matters worse, the Google TV system was based on my beloved Android operating system, but offered none of the goodies I enjoyed from my phone on a daily basis. It didn’t take long for Logitech to figure out that they could only move Google TV units if they dropped the price to $99 and promised everyone on stage with Google at I/O this year than an update was coming that would fix everything. Months have passed without a sound, and finally today we have an update on what’s to come for Google TV.Completely overhauled UIAndroid 3.1 has been adjusted to fit screens of any size, as was demonstrated by Google’s Fragments UI explanation at Google I/O. Essentially, your navigation will exist across the left hand panel, unless you are watching live TV. If you are watching live TV, a submenu will pop up on the bottom of the screen to give you access to basic features. Since it’s Android 3.1, you can expect the color scheme to be Tron-ish blues and blacks all around.Depending on how you have your Google TV configured and who your television provider is, the most amazing feature to the core OS is the search function. Easily dig around for your favorite show and get all the information your provider has, plus anything Google can find across search and IMDB on the shows or movies you are watching. Google TV is still bound to a single Gmail.com address, which is frustrating but not a deal breaker, unless you have multiple people in the house that want to use Google+ on the Google TV.Apps!Android’s power truly comes from being open source, and the Android Market’s enormous volume of apps. Since Google TV isn’t open source, we’ve got to rely exclusively on the Market for our amazing. Google has packed the Android Market with apps customized for Google TV. The Movies by Flixster app, for example, is already set to deliver not only movie experience information and showtimes, but also the latest UltraViolet movie streaming, if you are an avid Blu-ray purchaser. Stream music with Google Music, watch movies on the YouTube powered Movies app with the same library as your phone. Not every app that runs on Google TV has been visually optimized for the Honeycomb Fragments, but still provide a great experience. My personal favorite just for the amusement factor was the Classy Fireplace app, turning my TV into a roaring fireplace.While regular apps are fun, let’s talk about games! Android 3.1 supports USB controllers like the Xbox 360, and the Android Market is chock full of games. While Angry Birds isn’t quite ready for Google TV, it’s only a matter of time. Meanwhile, Nascar managed to be the first out of the gate with the Nascar Live app, allowing you to keep up on your favorite drivers and get notifications from the app before a race is about to come one. The app also includes videos and standings for all of the active drivers.Developers, if you haven’t already, check out Google’s suggested design patterns for the best way to get your App ready for Google TV.If you already own a Google TVIf you have already installed one of the leaked builds floating around the internet on your Logitech Revue, there’s a distinct possibility that you are out of luck for this update. It’s possible that the clever hackers of the world may save you, but Google will not. For $99, you may consider just picking up a new one. The update will be first rolling out to Sony Google TV owners, and that rollout will begin on Sunday. Sometime in the next month, Logitech Revue units and everything else will also get the latest update for your Google TV experience. Currently there is no talk at Google at all about whether or not Ice Cream Sandwich and Google TV will ever be friends.Final ThoughtsNot being able to have multiple logins for Google TV still feels like a huge mistake. People live in houses, and those houses will more often than not have more than a single Google user in them. Why not support the household when you claim to be building Google TV to make it easier for the family to gather around the TV to enjoy the web together? Android Apps is a huge plus for the Google TV system, and as long as developers pick it up the platform will naturally grow in its user base. The real question now is whether or not an OS with no open source and the ability to make their own apps and charge for them is enough for all of the organizations that blocked Google TV to change their tune and allow this experience to be a positive one.last_img