What Is Google TV and How Does It Work?

Google gives Chromecast owners a personalized TV experience

Through Google TV, users can browse through their TV and movie libraries, along with a number of streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max, all in one unified user interface.

What Is Google TV?

Formerly called Google Play Movies & TV, Google TV is a platform that centers around user customization and content recommendations.

Google's existing storefront of movies and television still remains, and users can download and access a number of streaming apps, whether the content is live or on-demand. Google TV groups and lists various television shows and films into one menu, personalized for the user.

Essentially, Google TV combines everything you watch from different services into a seamless and combined experience, while also pointing you in the direction of similar pieces of content to start watching. Google TV also features full Google Photos support, allowing users to showcase their photos from the cloud to their big-screen television.

The software is currently available on the new Google Chromecast, and it will gradually replace the Android TV interface on smart televisions and other Android TV devices.

What Can Google Chromecast With Google TV Do?

Like previous Google Chromecast models, Google Chromecast with Google TV comes in the form of an HDMI dongle. Chromecast traditionally uses mobile devices or computers as a remote using Google Cast technology—by casting video or audio from an app such as YouTube to your Chromecast device, that device will then display video and audio on the television the Chromecast is connected to. From there, your mobile device or computer is used to pause, play, rewind, or skip forward.

Google Cast is still possible on the Google Chromecast with Google TV, but this is not the default for this device. Unlike Chromecast devices before it, this new Chromecast comes with a remote. This remote has a four-directional pad, a center button, a back button, a Google Assistant button, volume buttons, a Netflix button, and a YouTube button. And unlike previous Chromecast models, which featured an ambient mode while nothing was cast to it from a mobile device, this Google Chromecast fully utilizes the Google TV interface and menu.

Does Google TV Work with Google Assistant?

As with much of Google's software and hardware, Google TV has full Google Assistant integration. With a press of a button, Google TV users can use voice commands for a number of functions. With Google TV in particular, one can ask Google Assistant to find recommended films of a certain genre. Users can also use Google Assistant for basic functions, such as navigating the menu or opening specific applications by name.

If the user's home is fully featured with Google Assistant-connected devices, they can control them through Google TV. Control your lights and speakers, or perhaps use your Google Assistant smart speakers to control Google TV—control playback, open apps, or even turn off your Google TV device with a voice command without your remote.

How Is Google TV Different from Other Platforms?

Competing smart devices and smart TV platforms include Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Apple TV's interface combines content from most services within an Apple TV app. While the Apple TV app is also available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, it's not on Google TV, and therefore Apple TV+ content is not officially available on Google TV. However, the main Apple TV interface is only available on Apple TV devices.

Apple's streaming devices and app use the same name so it's a bit confusing. Here's more on what Apple TV is.

Roku is available through smart televisions and Roku streaming sticks. Its main menu has a grid of applications, with advertisements taking up much of the screen's space. Rather than using its own storefront like Google, Apple, and Amazon, Roku uses FandangoNOW as its film storefront. Roku has limited compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Amazon Fire is similar to Roku and features full Alexa support. Like Apple and Roku, but unlike Google, Amazon Fire features channels such as STARZ and Showtime, allowing its users to subscribe to different services and watch their content on Amazon Fire devices. However, Amazon Fire does not feature streaming apps HBO Max or Peacock.