Sony just unveiled a new Google TV set-top box, the NSZ-GS8. The updated box now includes a microphone, and has a complex remote, which in the past was one of the criticisms leveled at Google TV’s design.
The microphone is a key part of the update. Late in 2012, Google updated its TV system to allow voice-powered searches, and it looks like Sony has only just caught up. Voice search for TV is likely to be crucial to taking streaming TV viewing into the future, with users making generic commands like “play me some college football,” instead of clicking between channels. Voice search, and other voice commands, are a critical component of Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One console. And Apple has long been rumored to be planning a smart Siri-integrated TV experience to overturn many established TV norms.