Google TV would gain smart home and fitness features

A photo of Google TV on a TV render

Your Google TV streaming device could soon become a smart home hub and Fitness+ rival.
Picture: google

It’s no secret that Google has been fighting over space in your living room for years. Google TV has undergone many brand changes since its launch in 2010, but it has still managed to become one of the best streaming platforms. And it doesn’t stop: Google aims to do more than just show your favorite TV shows and provide recommendations on what to watch.

In a conversation with Protocol, Rob Caruso, director of product management at Google TV, said the company is focused on improving the capabilities of Google TV devices such as Chromecasts this year, starting with smart home and fitness integrations. . This would make Google TV decidedly more Apple-like – the latter company’s Apple TV set-top box is more expensive than competitors, but acts as a hub for HomeKit-enabled devices and also integrates with Apple Watch for Fitness streaming workout classes. +.

We already knew that Android TV would not be outdone in the rename to Google TV, and Caruso confirmed that Google will continue to support the platform, which still powers the majority of active streaming devices still in use.

“Android TV is still here and it’s still being rolled out, and obviously it’s still supported,” Caruso told Protocol.

That’s good news for owners of legacy devices, even though Android, which Google TV is still based on, isn’t exactly known for its streamlined software updates.

Google also wants to work more closely with content providers to make its Universal TV search your one-stop-shop for streaming. It’s a strategy as old as time, taken straight from the company’s search engine manual. But to achieve its goals, it needs more third parties to come into the fold. Netflix, for example, is one of the major streaming networks that doesn’t allow you to add movies and TV shows to your watch list. As a Google TV user, I rely on this feature to keep track of what interests me, and it has the added benefit of being notified when it becomes available.

“Hopefully we’ll see some welcome improvements and innovations in the coming months, not just with Netflix, but with many partners,” said Caruso, who arrived at Google last August after a stint at Netflix.

With Google’s investment in Fitbit, it’s no surprise to see Google considering a fitness integration for Google TV. Caruso told Protocol it was a “great area of ​​exploration.” It’ll be interesting to see if Google leverages Fitbit’s on-demand workout classes (which are available in the Fitbit app with a premium subscription), or introduces a new competitor Peloton or Fitness+.

The smart home may be the final major piece of the Google TV puzzle. It makes sense with Matter, the smart home standard that promises to unite them all, is on the horizon. Google is exploring better integration with smart devices, including Android phones. It is unclear whether this would go beyond enlargement Quick pairing function Google announced last week, which allows Android smartphones to pair devices to the network, much like a smart hub. This is reminiscent of Samsung’s strategy revealed with its SmartThings platform.

Google TV user numbers are on the rise – the platform currently has 110 million monthly active devices, and hardware partners like TCL would sell 10 millions Google TV sets one year.

The question remains whether Google can come up with a compelling use of its devices beyond just watching TV. Or maybe it will turn out that all it needs to keep users tuned in is to be the best search engine for couch potatoes. As of now, there’s no timeline for when Google will launch new Google TV features, although Caruso hinted at “sometime later this year.”

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