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12/15/2010
04:48 PM
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Google TV Update Adds Voice Search

Users will receive the first Google TV software update automatically.

In the two months since Google TV hardware went on sale, video content providers have tried to contain Google's experimental hybrid of Internet and television has if it were some abomination from The Island of Dr. Moreau.

ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and Viacom have all taken steps to block Google TV's access to their premium television shows. Their fear is that Google TV will encourage viewership of Internet content, thereby siphoning valuable attention from their content and ultimately diminishing their power.

Undaunted, Google on Wednesday announced the first of what presumably will be many free, automatic software updates for Google TV.

Beyond bug fixes, the new code makes Netflix more accessible though an improved Netflix app. The initial Netflex app only allowed users to browse what was in their instant queues. The updated version adds recommendations and the ability to search for and watch any movie or TV show in the Netflix streaming catalog. It even allows the user to queue DVDs to be mailed.

Google expects that the availability of Android apps of this sort will add significantly to the appeal of Google TV, which is why it's working on an Android-based SDK for Google TV. The Google TV SDK is scheduled to be released in early 2011.

The Google TV update also makes the dual viewing experience -- doesn't everyone surf the Web while watching TV? -- better. Google TV users can now move and resize the video window overlay while browsing the Web.

And Google TV users can now download the Google TV Remote app from the Android Market (and soon for the iPhone through the iTunes App Store). Beyond making typical TV remote features available on one's phone, the app leverages Google's significant investment in voice recognition to allow spoken searches for shows.

Google has also enhanced movie searches by creating a movie search results page that aggregates associated film titles from a variety of sources -- Amazon Video on Demand, Netflix, TV -- in order to provide a single point of access.

Google and YouTube have invited those interested in obtaining a 46" Sony Internet TV (which relies on the Google TV platform) to submit a video explaining why they're excited about watching YouTube on Google TV before December 22, 2010. The companies plan to announce 100 winners who will receive Sony Internet TVs on January 20, 2011.

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