Google TV vs Android TV: What’s the Difference?

Google TV is more of an Android TV evolution than a completely new OS

Android TV and Google TV are two solid operating systems used to power a variety of smart TV models and Google’s own Chromecast devices. While Google TV is the newer operating system, Android TV still gets a lot of support and shouldn’t be disregarded. We’ve reviewed both to help you better understand their various features, functions, and slightly different design aesthetic.

Logos of Google TV and androidtv.

Overall Findings

Google TV
  • Support for multiple adult and child user profiles.

  • Massive selection of smart TV apps.

  • Strong focus on personalized content.

  • Manual and voice controls for smart home devices.

  • Dedicated tab for live broadcasts.

Android TV
  • Strong choice of apps with very little missing.

  • Good support for smart home devices.

  • Multiple users need to log in with a separate Google account.

  • Parental controls affect everyone due to lack of child profiles.

Android TV and Google TV are both incredibly solid operating systems for both smart TVs and Chromecast streaming devices. Google TV is the newer of the two and has several improvements but it’s not as different from Android TV as you may think. In fact, both operating systems are built on Android with Google TV working more like an Android TV update with a rebrand than a complete reinvention.

Switching from an Android TV device to one running Google TV is more akin to upgrading from an old Android smartphone to a newer Android model rather than jumping from an Apple iPad to something completely different like a Windows tablet. All of the Android apps that run on Android TV also run on Google TV and both feature strong support for voice commands with Google Assistant, smart home controls, casting with Chromecast, and media streaming.

Whether you prefer Google TV over Android TV or not will come down to how much you’re interested in its various improvements, namely its user profiles, child settings, better personalization, and focus on live TV.

User Experience and Apps: Google TV Is More Personal but the Apps Are the Same

Google TV
  • Supports the same apps as Android TV.

  • Personalized home screen for each user.

  • Strong focus on media over apps.

Android TV
  • Smart TV app parity with Google TV.

  • Recommendations based on apps, not personal taste.

  • Not designed for content discovery.

Android TV and Google TV both work completely fine as smart TV operating systems. Having said that, Google TV is an improvement on Android TV due to its emphasis on content over apps, the addition of individual user profiles, and a renewed focus on live TV content.

Google TV’s live TV tab is a genuinely useful feature as it displays previews of active broadcasts from services such as Philo TV, YouTube TV, and Sling TV all within the one screen. This makes choosing what to watch much easier and faster than opening individual apps one after the other. It also gives you one more reason to use your smart TV’s dashboard when looking for something to watch.

Both Google TV and Android TV support the same library of Android apps from the Google Play Store app store. Each smart TV system can also be used to play video games via Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service. When it comes to Google Stadia cloud gaming, Google does recommend certain TV models over others but this has little to do with the operating system.

Smartphone and Smart Home Support: Both Support Casting, Voice Commands, and Mobile Remote

Google TV
  • Movies and TV series can be saved to profiles from your phone.

  • The Google TV app can be used to control your TV.

  • Chromecast fully supported.

  • Smart home controls for lights and cameras.

Android TV
  • The Google TV app can also be used to control an Android TV smart TV.

  • Full support for Chromecast.

  • Smart home camera and light support.

Smart TVs running either Google TV or Android TV can be controlled via the Google TV smartphone app. Using the app, you can control various system settings and use your phone to type search phrases or login information which is significantly more convenient than typing with the TV remote.

As of late-2021, the Google TV app is only available on Android smartphones which means iPhone owners will have to live without this functionality. Users can manage a profile’s watch list via the Google website though. This can be done on any device including tablets and computers.

Android TV and Google TV both support the control of connected smart home devices such as Nest security cameras and smart lights either by manual controls or by using Google Assistant-powered voice commands.

Parental Controls and Profiles: Google TV Beats Android TV When It Comes to Kids

Google TV
  • Support for multiple profiles on the same Google account.

  • Child profiles with content restrictions.

  • Personal recommendations for each profile.

Android TV
  • No support for multiple profiles on the same Google account.

  • Content suggestions all based on the main account.

  • Content restrictions via system-wide parental settings.

When it comes to user profiles and personalized content, Google TV is clearly the winner. While Android TV does allow users to log in with their own separate Google account to manage apps and other preferences, the process is tedious and still displays content recommended for the main account holder.

Google TV, on the other hand, supports the creation of profiles that sit within the one Google account and each one is fully personalized based on that individual’s viewing activity. Parents can also create special child profiles for younger family members which can be monitored and managed via the Google Family Link service. This is a vast improvement over Android TV’s system-wide parental lock setting that affects everyone.

Final Verdict: What’s the Difference Between Google TV and Android TV?

If you’re just after a basic smart TV that can play content from Netflix and Disney Plus, use Android apps, and cast media with Chromecast, you really can’t go wrong with either Android TV or Google TV. However, if your household has multiple people who would benefit from having their own user profiles and you watch a lot of live TV streaming apps on a very regular basis, Google TV is the clear choice.

It would be hard to recommend buying a new Google TV device if you already have an Android TV one that works just fine. When it comes time to upgrade though, such as when investing in a smart TV or Chromecast device that supports 4K or HDR, a model running Google TV may be worth a look if the price is competitive and you can see yourself using the newer features.

FAQ
  • Which works better with Sony Android TVs, Google Home or Amazon Echo?

    You can use both Alexa and Google Assistant to control a Sony Android TV. However, Amazon Alexa-enabled devices have been able to control the Smart TVs since 2017, while Google Assistant only gained this ability in 2021.

  • How do you add an Android TV to Google Home?

    There are several ways to connect Google Home to your TV. To set up an Android TV in the Google Home app, go to Add Set up deviceNew device > the home you want to add the device to > Next > the TV > Next. Then, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.

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