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Google TV Tools Tune Web For Couch Viewing

With a new UI library and design modules, Google hopes to help developers build TV-optimized sites.

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While waiting for its engineers to complete the Android SDK add-on for building Google TV applications, Google hopes to encourage Web developers to streamline their sites for viewing through Google TV.

Google needs all the content it can get for Google TV, its effort to bring television and the Internet together through its search command line. The major television media companies -- ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and Viacom -- have opted to block their shows from appearing on Google TV.

Google is negotiating to win them over, and has already made concessions to assure the availability of content on Google TV. For instance, the company is supporting H.264 in Google TV's version of Chrome despite having declared H.264 unfit for Chrome on the desktop.

Google also faces the challenge of encouraging Web site owners to optimize their sites for Google TV so that they work well when accessed from the couch. Without something to show on screen, Google TV is dead in the water.

Web sites designed to be accessed through a desktop computer, with a keyboard and mouse, aren't necessarily well suited to other modes of interaction. So Google is providing two open-source template designs, each tuned for either HTML5 or Flash video playback, to accelerate the deployment of Google TV-friendly Web sites and a UI library that makes it easier to build menus, buttons, and other interface elements.

For example, Google recommends that Web sites implement a "D-pad," a virtual numeric keypad linked to the user's physical Google TV remote keyboard, because many Google TV users prefer D-pad navigation to mouse navigation. Google has published recommended UI designs on a reference Web site.

Google TV developers are applauding the new tools in Google's developer forum. But they're sure to be even happier if Google and its partners can convince more customers to buy Google TV hardware and to use it.

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