Android TV vs Google TV: Which is the Better Option for Your Home Entertainment?

Android, Google, Streaming

In the world of tech, Google and Android are two well-known names. Back in the day, Google acquired Android and created a TV operating system – Android TV. Android TV didn’t quite meet expectations when it first launched. Fortunately, Android TV has significantly improved with Google’s assistance in recent years. But, with the recent launch of new TCL and Chromecast models, Google is obviously preferring Google TV. This has led to an interesting Android TV vs. Google TV debate. With both running side by side, people wonder what’s better for home entertainment. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the details of Android TV and compare it to its newer counterpart, Google TV. We will also explain what’s better for your home entertainment system.

So, let’s explore everything you need to know about them. 

What is Android TV?

Android TV

Android TV is an operating system designed by Google. It can run on smart TVs, set-top boxes, digital media players, and soundbars. It’s based on Android, which means it can support various applications similar to smartphones and tablets

Unlike Google TV, Android TV is an open platform, allowing any manufacturer to create a device that can run it. This makes it easier to find the right device that suits your needs. 

Android TV is popular among viewers who enjoy watching content on a large screen and gamers who stream games from services like Twitch and YouTube Gaming at 4K resolution. Although some users may prefer using their phones as remotes, Android TVs are optimized for interactions with remote controls or game controllers

Advantages of Android TV

Below are the advantages of using Android TV:

  • Wide range of applications available for download
  • The open platform allows for a diverse range of device options
  • User-friendly interface designed for remote and game controller interactions
  • Compatibility with Google Assistant for voice control
  • Ability to stream games at 4K resolution
  • Support for major streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu
  • Regular software updates to improve performance and add new features

What is Google TV?

Google TV

Google TV is a smart TV operating system developed by Google in partnership with Intel, Sony, and Logitech. The OS was initially launched in 2010 and is officially supported by Sony and Logitech devices. 

Based on the Android operating system, Google TV became an open-source platform in 2013. The platform was designed to offer a comprehensive entertainment experience, integrating with popular services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and Pandora. 

Although the initial Google TV device did not sell as well as expected, Google continued to improve the platform and released an updated version, “Google TV 2,” in 2011. The updated version of Google TV, “Google TV 2,” introduced various improvements:

  • Addition of more apps from popular video providers like HBO Go and ESPN3
  • Enhanced search capabilities through voice command using the remote control, AKA universal search
  • Improved typing experience through a smartphone’s keyboard via Bluetooth connection between devices works only when both devices are connected over Wi-Fi.

Advantages of Google TV

Some benefits of using Google TV include the following:

  • Integration with popular streaming services
  • Voice command capabilities for easy search and navigation
  • Compatibility with a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets
  • Ability to control smart home devices with Google Assistant
  • Google TV recommendations based on your viewing history
  • Access to the Google PlayStore for downloading apps and games
  • Compatibility with Google Stadia for cloud gaming.

Android TV VS Google TV: Key Differences

Despite their many similarities, below are their main differences: 

  1. Operating System

The primary difference between Android and Google TVs is their OS. Android TV runs on – as obvious – Android. On the other hand, Google TV uses ChromeOS. Think of it like a Chrome browser running on Linux. 

  1. User Interface

Google TV brings a fresh user interface that differs in appearance and sensation while relying on Android TV as the backbone. In addition to a sleeker layout, the updated interface emphasizes customized content by employing artificial intelligence and includes a section for live broadcasts. It displays previews of active broadcasts from top streaming services. Click on a thumbnail to go straight to the broadcast. 

  1. Viewing Experience 

Google TV offers a range of unique features that enhance the viewing experience and make it more convenient for users. The platform allows users to access live content from over-the-air sources like ABC or NBC and stream popular services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Its most notable feature is “Google Cast,” which lets users view content from other devices, like smartphones or tablets. This makes watching shows a hassle-free experience, requiring only an HDMI cord to connect to your phone.

  1. Search Functionality

Google TV’s search function is distinct from that of Android TV. While Android TV limits its search to installed apps, you can search for content across multiple sources on Google TV. This feature lets you check what’s available from all your preferred streaming services and choose where to watch. For this reason, it is advisable to use Google TV’s in-built search feature rather than depending solely on one service like Netflix to find new programs or search for them blindly.

  1. Personalized Content

Google TV uses advanced technologies such as machine learning, Google Assistant, and Google’s Knowledge Graph information base to personalize the viewing experience. By analyzing the viewer’s watching habits, Google TV offers tailored recommendations on the For You tab and showcases relevant promotions and popular content in your region.

  1. User Profiles & Parental Controls

Another significant difference is in the handling of profiles and parental controls. Google TV allows multiple kids’ profiles under a single adult’s account, each with personalized recommendations and content restrictions that can be managed through the Google Family Link service. In contrast, Android TV’s content restrictions are handled through system-wide parental settings.

  1. Smart Home Integration

Integrating smart TVs and other devices in the Google ecosystem goes beyond just profiles and watchlists. With access to Google’s wide range of smart home devices, users can fully utilize their TVs’ “smart” capabilities. For example:

  • You can view camera feeds from video doorbells and home security cameras directly on your TV.
  • You can control the smart lights in your living room without leaving the couch.
  • Connecting a webcam to your smart TV lets you easily join a Google Duo video call, now with a bigger and better screen for virtual gatherings.
  • With Google Assistant built into the TV and accessible through hands-free voice control, you can seamlessly access all these features and more just by saying, “OK Google.”

This brings us to an interesting question

Will Google Upgrade Android TV devices to Google TV?

Well, it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon. While all the new devices powered by Google, such as Sony’s Bravia and TCL TVs, will come preloaded with Google TV, it doesn’t seem like older Android TV devices will be updated to the new platform. 

However, some existing Android TV devices like the NVIDIA Shield, Xiaomi Mi set-top boxes, and Sony TVs have recently received updates with a new user interface resembling Google TV. Their new Android interface comes with features like the Discover tab and Watchlist. Sure, Google TV is the future. But, owners of older Android TV devices can still enjoy some of the latest features..

Android TV VS Google TV: Which One Should You Choose? 

Google is currently transitioning its smart TVs and streaming devices to Google TV. We’re going through a period of overlap during which Android TVs and the newest Google TV models are available. The question then becomes, which one should you choose?

Our recommendation is to go with Google TV. It offers everything that makes Android TV great, plus more capabilities, a better user interface, better content discovery, and a host of new usability improvements. However, it’s worth noting that Android TVs still have all the core features that Google TV offers. These include a vast selection of apps, built-in Chromecast, Google Assistant, and even many of the same smart home features (albeit with additional setup steps). As manufacturers and retailers clear out older inventory, Android TVs will become an even more attractive option for budget-conscious shoppers.

Final Thoughts

That’s all about the Android TV VS Google TV debate. Both offer exceptional smart TV experiences with a wide range of capabilities and features. Google TV, however, provides the latest and most advanced technology, making it the top choice for those seeking the best of the best. But, those on a budget can still enjoy all the core features of a smart TV by opting for an Android TV, especially with discounts on older models as newer ones come into the market. Regardless of your choice, both options guarantee a remarkable viewing experience.

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