The horizon of online TV is looking bright -- the Google TV vs Apple TV debate is warming up with new updates and apps on the way. They're going through similar growing pains -- each update cracks the digital TV code in a better way and walks farther down the road of development.
The upcoming Google TV update has an improved offering, in which they've fixed usability issues and made it more streamlined and simple to use. There's a new app called “TV & Movies” with 80,000 movies and TV shows taken from across cable TV, satellite TV, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and other channels. There's also a software update for Sony devices (sometime this week) and Logitech devices (soon), and new hardware is on the horizon. Google TV 2.0? Maybe, but it's more advanced than the last version, no matter what number you put on it.
They're also doubling down on the Android Market, with 30 Google TV apps ready for the relaunch. Flixter/Netflix, IMDB, NPR, Pandora, Google Music App, Rhapsody, Vevo, Slacker Radio, LP33.TV, TuneIn Radio and Baeble Music are all in, but the list is much longer than that. In addition to music apps it also rolls out with HD-quality hi-def video, offering us a crystal clear version of the online TV experience. It's going to be available for Android 3.1 Honeycomb, according to Engadget.
It was announced last week via the Google TV Twitter, which pointed to the Google TV blog by saying "A big update to #GoogleTV is coming. Check out the official announcement http://t.co/NRwkJb6k and the all new website http://t.co/sxFdvYwh."
Google is planting the redefinition flag by declaring that they have no intention of recreating the old-style TV experience or even replacing it, but rather adding a new layer to it: "This chapter is not about replacing broadcast or cable TV; it’s not about replicating what’s on TV to the Web. It’s about bringing millions of new channels to your TV from the next generation of creators, application developers, and networks," reads the announcement. It's one small step for man, one giant leap of the digital kind.
Apple TV, on the other digital hand, is two things right now: the existing Apple TV box and the mythical and futuristic aspiration known as the Apple TV set. The new Steve Jobs biography has set the Apple TV rumors on fire again about the second option, which is very likely to replace the current model.
Imagine what Apple TV with Siri would be like. You could actually dialog with your TV to do all sorts of things like find shows and search live TV schedules. And no more looking for the remote! Also, those who've been challenged to program the VCR/DVR would love the fact that you could just tell the TV what show to record from live TV and be done with it.
We're all hearing about how Siri can change your life in their new ads, but we've heard in the past that "The Shins will change your life," and look how that turned out. Still, Siri shows much more potential. Now that we know the Apple TV has code in iOS5, we know that a foundation has been laid for some kind of Apple TV update. Will it be Apple TV 3.0 or the Apple TV set? Or both?
This is what Apple does, right? Take an existing idea, do it better than it's been done in the past, and launch it with good timing instead of being too far ahead of its time. Think about the current features that could go into an Apple TV set: hi-def video with HDMI support to connect any kind of device, streaming from the Apple iCloud for iTunes and iCloud integration and you've got a a redefined experience that would package an online music store and music manager with a Netflix-style streaming capability for movies and TV shows. There's also the whole Apple Thunderbolt display that will support iTunes in full-screen mode and is 64-bit capable, for a high-powered iTunes that supports full screen apps and video. Finally , think of all of the Apple TV apps that could emerge as people try to further the experience.
So on the on hand ... Google TV is right now and about to go through a major upgrade. Apple TV is waiting in the wings and is mostly theory and rumors right now, although it seems almost certain that the TV set is certain. Apple is all about the hardware for MP3 players, mobile phones and tablets; and TV and the living room is where Apple doesn't fully live ... yet.
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