Google TV, which is becoming an increasingly popular source of Smart TV entertainment, recently released an intriguing update. First, we have a retooled guide service that groups programs by category rather than numerical order. This makes all the sense in the world. No reason to sift through a thousand unrelated options when you can narrow it down and save some time. Yet, it is an entirely different feature that has everybody talking.
Google TV has added a new voice search option that will allow the app’s users to find what they’re looking for by simply speaking their program choice out loud and at their remote. Right off the bat, those of us with non-photographic channel memories will be grateful. Rather than having to remember what channel number NatGeo occupies on Verizon, Optimum, and Time Warner Cable, it seems a bit easier to just say, “NatGeo”. Sure, you also have the type-it-out search option, but that can get tedious, especially if what you’re looking for is longer than a word or two. Voice search functionality also works across the platform’s apps, and allows you to search categorically as well; Comedy, Drama, etc. Of course, anyone who remembers the early talk-to-type software knows that anything voice activated can be tricky. Still, phones have done a pretty solid job with voice recognition, and there’s no reason to think Google TVs new feature can’t handle it equally as well.
We’ve gone through a similar song and dance before, as last year’s update was supposed to have improved the oft-criticized platform, but the consensus seemed to be that, though it represented a step forward, it still came up frustratingly short. Let’s hope this improvement on last year’s improvement obviates the need for further improvement – at least in the immediate future. We’d like to see Google TV live up to its substantial promise, but up until now, it’s been a bit like a 16-year old learning to drive a stick-shift: moving in the right direction, but herky-jerkily so.
LG’s Google TV products will be the first to get the app, followed by Sony and others.