Google Changes the Channel (With Its Voice?)

Google TV

We've been following Google TV very closely, and not just because Google is one of our Most Innovative Companies. Google TV is one of the riskier attempts to connect the living room we've ever seen--rather than adding a simple set-top box that plays back videos and music (like Apple TV or Boxee), Google TV isna transparent upgrade to your existing system--a supplement, not a replacement. Your cable TV will still look like your cable TV, but with a Google search bar for added utility. Of course, it offers video from sources like Netflix, but it's still an unusual product.

That Google TV would be launching in the U.S. this year was pretty much a foregone conclusion. It'll be packaged into some Sony TVs and Blu-ray decks, as well as made available in its own set-top box from Logitech. But at his keynote speech at this year's IFA technology conference in Berlin, Google CEO Eric Schmidt dropped a few more tantalizing hints about Google TV.

First, he confirmed that Google TV would be launching worldwide in 2011, in what the Wall Street Journal calls a "move to expand its reach outside its core U.S. market." Google will also launch "support for applications" on the platform during that year. It's not specified what that means--we could be looking at an app store, or a set of pre-approved apps from content providers like the one offered by Boxee or Roku (Pandora, MLB, Hulu, that kind of thing--but nothing from independent developers).

Interestingly, Schmidt also confirmed that Google TV will support voice control. Google is one of the unsung pioneers of voice control--its implementation in Android is fantastic. Just imagine changing channels with your voice.

It's still not a sure thing that Google TV will be a hit, but these announcements certainly bode well, especially the app repository, in whatever form it ends up.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in Brooklyn (no link for that one--you'll have to do the legwork yourself).

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