Good news: The apps that come with Google TV out of the box are good. Bad news: There needs to be a lot more of them. Better news: There will be more -- a lot more. Google is promising that the Android Market will open up to Google TV early in 2011. As alluded to earlier, this will be a tremendous leap for the platform, but it could bring some headaches along the way. Do we really want spam apps on our TVs because Google refuses to police its app community? You'll have to decide.
Gallery on Google TV is the same as on the Android phone platform. The app links to your Picasa account and displays photos in almost the exact same way as on a phone. If you don't use Picasa, of course, you're out of luck. You'll need to wait for other apps or surf the old fashioned way in Chrome.
The Logitech Media Player was one of the weakest apps on the Revue. We found that it failed to recognize some of our USB drives and wouldn't play some of our media formats, including MPG, which Logitech claims is supports. When we did get the Player to run music, for example, all the screen showed was a music symbol icon. Where are the visualizations able to leverage Intel's graphics power? Where are the EQ presets? To be fair, the Media Player gave occasion to try out Logitech's Help Assistant, which has to be one of the best help systems I've ever seen for a consumer electronics device.
For the record, even though Logitech notes Media Player as being in beta with possible omissions in its format support, the company officially claims that Revue will play AAC, MP3, OGG, MP4, MP4A, JPEG, GIF, PNG, AVI, DivX, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, and XviD formats.
Other noteworthy apps include Pandora, Twitter, NBA Game Time, Amazon On Demand, and Netflix.
When you click to leave Pandora, the app will ask if you want to continue playing your music in the background. This makes for much more entertaining Web surfing, and it's odd that not all media apps on Google TV offer this capability.
No surprises on Twitter. The app remains simple and faithful to the original.
Netflix was a bit of a letdown. Google TV's implementation has a lot more in common with the terrible TiVo version than the oh-so-refined Xbox 360 edition. It's not excruciatingly slow like TiVo's spin, but I definitely miss the many categories besides the obvious Instant Queue. Sometimes you just want a "see more like this" suggestion because you have no clue what to look for.
I should point out how indispensable I found Dual View for applications. Commercials are everyone's bane when it comes to live TV. You hate to switch away from a show because you don't want to miss anything after the commercial break. You can't watch two stations simultaneously because you only have one brain. What to do? You Dual View out and do your tweeting, headline surfing, or whatever app you please while the commercial runs in that inset window. It's freaking brilliant. Never again will anyone need to be bored during lame programming.