There are so many different TV systems and streaming services out there nowadays, it can be tricky to keep track and understand them all. If you’ve heard the names “Google TV” and “Android TV”, for example, you might be confused about the difference between them.
This guide will go over all you need to know about what is Google TV and what is Android TV. We’ll look at how they compare, what makes them different, and what kinds of features you can find in Google TV vs Android TV.
Google TV Replaces Android TV
Let’s begin with a clear and simple definition of what is Android TV and what is Google TV. In a lot of ways, they’re actually the same thing. In fact, a simple way to understand the situation is to say that Google TV is essentially just a new and improved version of Android TV.
Android TV is a smart TV operating system, made by Google. It’s built in to all sorts of devices, from smart TV sets to digital media players. It allows users to search, find, and access content from a ton of streaming apps and services, including Peacock, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max.
In 2020, Google TV was introduced as a replacement for Android TV. But really, the word “upgrade” is probably more suitable, as Google TV retains many of the same features and code as Android TV, but simply adds more features, changes, and a fresh new interface.
Just like phones upgrade from Android 8.0 to 9.0 and so on, Google TV is simply the next step in the development of Android TV, re-branded to be more strongly associated with the Google name. Here’s a brief list of some of the key features this upgrade delivered:
- A brand new interface focused on content and custom recommendations
- The introduction of live TV programming from sources like YouTube TV
- More mobile controls, with users able to use their phones and other devices to control Google TV
- Multiple user accounts for each member of the family, with their own personalized recommendations
- And other additions, like advanced parental controls and smart home integration
Arguably the biggest change from Android TV to Google TV is the interface. Google TV introduces a whole new, ten-foot interface designed with big-screen TVs in mind. And the focus of the interface has shifted away from apps and towards content.
The Home Screen of Google TV is very different from what we’ve seen in the past from Android TV. It’s a big, wide page, filled with promos and pictures of different shows and films.
This is where you’ll find your own personal recommendations, along with images of the latest movie and TV releases from the streaming services you use.
Navigating this interface will also be a fresh experience for former Android TV users. There are new menus for setting up new devices via the Google Home app, as well as new tabs, like the “Watchlist”, where you can bookmark shows and films to watch later on, and the aforementioned “Live” tab.
Live TV Streaming
If the interface is the biggest aesthetic change from Android TV to Google TV, then the biggest functional change is the introduction of live TV streaming.
As mentioned above, the new interface has a whole new tab, labeled “Live”. This is where you can find all of the new Live TV content through Google TV, pulled straight from cable TV replacement services like YouTube TV and Sling.
With Google TV, browsers can browse and watch dozens of live channels with real-time programming, with news, shows, movies, and more being shown all through the day and night. This is a big upgrade over Android TV, which had no real focus on live TV services whatsoever.
Controlling with Mobile Devices
A big upgrade from Android TV to Google TV is the addition of advanced mobile remote controls. In the past, users of Android TV could find it difficult or cumbersome to navigate the menus and type in the words they wanted to search for.
All of this has been overhauled for Google TV, with Google making the most of its massive Android family of devices. Now, when you want to browse the menus or search for something on Google TV, you can simply use your phone’s on-screen keyboard and touchscreen interface.
This change makes it a lot easier to type in the names of shows and films, and it also gives users a more reliable alternative to the voice search feature from Android TV.
Plus, it’s a lot simpler to use your phone as a remote control for things like managing your watchlist or updating your account.
Multiple User Accounts
A big part of the Google TV experience is about personalization. It’s about giving users unique, personalized recommendations of shows and films to watch, based on their own viewing habits.
But how does this work if you have multiple people in the same household who want to use Google TV to watch different things?
Well, the service also includes multiple user accounts, allowing each person to have their own individual profile. This way, members of the same family or household can all get their own unique, tailored recommendations and profiles.
This is a big benefit in homes where people have different tastes and don’t want to have a random selection of recommendations that don’t make sense.
There are several other changes and differences between Android TV and Google TV, too. Here’s a brief run-down of some of the biggest upgrades that Google TV has to offer:
- Mobile Watchlists – With Google TV, you can browse through films and shows and customize your watchlist, even when you’re not actually sitting in front of the TV. Simply use your phone, tablet, laptop, or even a smart speaker to add things to watch to your watchlist.
- Smart Home Compatibility – As stated in the previous point, Google TV offers full integration with smart home devices like smart speakers, with Google Assistant built-in. With this technology, the sky’s the limit. You can dim the smart lights before watching a film, for example, or view a smart camera feed on your TV screen.
- Parental Controls – For parents, Google TV offers a lot of great advantages, including advanced parental controls and kid-friendly profile creation. You can set up profiles just for little ones, with filters to block out content that isn’t appropriate.
- Basic TV – Google TV also offers an interesting “Basic TV” feature. This basically allows you to switch off all of the smart stuff and connectivity, returning to a more classic television experience. This is a useful feature for people who worry about privacy concerns of always being online and connected.