If you’re one of the three or four people out there who bought a Google TV-powered device*, good news! Google just rolled out an update that transforms the experience of watching YouTube on your TV. The new interface is similar to other media centers, and portends Google’s continued push into the living room.
As part of expanding the capabilities and content offered by Google’s YouTube acquisition, the search giant detailed earlier in 2011 plans for the future of the streaming video site. A lot of that future is being driven by higher-quality video uploads and channels. Some of those uploads will be provided by the current massive influx of ‘new media’ video content organizations, while a surprising amount will hopefully be provided by companies with a little more experience in the genre.
The new Google TV update pushes the user toward finding new content based on categories and channels, rather than forcing their way into the content via crude text searches.
Early sales of Google TV units were lackluster at best. Users were confused by the interface, unsure of how the hardware worked, and skeptical of what the Google TV boxes could actually do for them. Compared to alternatives such as the Boxee Box, Roku streaming media players, Apple TV and WD TV Live players, the answer wasn’t much.
Ultimately, Logitech, one of Google’s two major launch partners, was forced to discontinue sales of the well-designed Logitech Revue, simply because they couldn’t sell enough of them. The boxes were introduced at a $299 price point, followed by $199, then $99, and finally dropped altogether.
Google dramatically expanded the capabilities of the various Google TV boxes recently by updating them to Android 3.0 and allowing end users to download and install new apps. Reportedly, the company is in the process of a major overhaul of the software later this year, and YouTube’s new original and likely live content will play a major role.
In addition to the Google TV update, Android users can expect YouTube on their own devices to get an update soon, applying some of the same design principles expressed in the GTV rollout.
* Just kidding, promise.