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Google TV could be getting these killer upgrades to fight Apple TV

The Chromecast with Google TV
(Image credit: Future)

Update: A new Chromecast with Google TV could be coming later this year

The Google TV platform looks set to get a big overhaul this year, with it poised to incorporate video conferencing, smart home and fitness services; this could see it shape up to be a rival for Apple TV 4K

That’s going by a Protocol interview with Google TV director of product management Rob Caruso, who detailed the future of Google TV. Caruso noted how Google is looking at building out its TV platform in partnership with more than 250 device partners across the world. Many of them use the underlying Android TV system, but the search giant is aiming to get them to fully embrace Google TV. 

“Over time, our bet and desire is that the Google TV experience will be the preferred choice for us and our partners that we deploy, but Android TV is still out there and it is still being deployed, and it's obviously still supported,” explained Caruso.

One of the ways Google could get Google TV more widely adopted is to build out the services Google TV has. And that means working closely with content providers to offer better integration with popular streaming services like Netflix; Google TV supports Netflix but users can’t add movies to system-wide watchlists, for example. 

Big upgrades tipped for Google TV

Google TV Watchlist

(Image credit: Google)

But the more intriguing updates and upgrades on the horizon are the boosting of Google TV with more diverse services and features. 

Caruso said Google wants to look at better integrating smart home controls with the Google TV platform; this seems logical; not only does Google have the Nest Hub and other smart home hardware, it also has its Home app that allows control of a range of smart devices. So integrating that into Google TV could be fairly straightforward.

The same goes for fitness features, as Google has its Fit app for tracking workouts and other wellness data. But Carouso said Google TV could go beyond that and make use of third-party fitness services. This would be a shrewd move as Apple TV supports the Apple Fitness Plus service, which enables the streaming of workouts to TVs.

And the same applies to video conferencing. Google’s Duo video calling app already works on Android TV, so it would make sense for it to be integrated into Google TV. As Android plays nice with other third-party video conferencing apps like Zoom, it seems those could be easily added into Google TV as well.

Finally, Caruso said Google TV is looking at expanding the free live TV channels currently available on the platform. The idea here is to give people things to watch as soon as their TV is set up, rather than wait for them to sign up or log into other streaming services.

“We want these TVs to wow you right out of the box,” Caruso told Protocol. And that seems to be the overall objective of Google TV: enable more to be done with those big screens in our home beyond watching movies, TV series or playing games.

Smart TVs already have a suite of capabilities, but having Google integrate more features from its software and service ecosystem could really evolve what TVs are used for.

We may not have to wait too long for that to happen as Caruso said: “All of those areas are things that we're looking at, that we're exploring, and hopefully bringing out at some point later this year.”

Roland Moore-Colyer is U.K. Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.