Google redesigned the YouTube app so it feels more like TV.
to lukewarm reviews. Its remote control was big and complicated, its software was clunky and confusing, and it didn’t live up to the promise of Internet-connected TV’s — that they would allow us to cut the cable cord and watch whatever we wanted whenever we wanted.
Now Google is trying again. On Friday, it will introduce the second version of its Google TV software. The hardware, which is made by Sony and Logitech, will stay the same for now. New devices, including from Samsung and Vizio, are scheduled to arrive next year.
This time, Google TV has a simpler user interface, smarter tools for searching, and is open to developers to build TV apps. It also has much humbler goals. Google no longer has visions of cord-cutting. Instead, it says it wants to complement what is already available on TV by offering new channels.
“We don’t believe the Web is going to replace linear TV,” said Mario Quieroz, head of Google TV. “This is designed to be complementary to cable TV.”
“It’s not a new strategy, but I think we’re articulating it better now,” he added.
That means don’t expect any new content partnerships; the major television networks, including ABC, NBC and CBS, are technology/05google.html">still not offering on-demand viewing for Google TV users.
“The content industry is adjusting, but they’re adjusting at the pace that they’re comfortable adjusting,” said Rishi Chandra, head of product for Google TV. “We believe the bigger value proposition is a bunch of content you can’t access on TV, and we’re going to unlock that.”
After its underwhelming first try, Google replaced much of the Google TV team, from the head of the project to the person in charge of pitching it to the media. Mr. Quieroz, who worked on Android during its spike in growth, now runs Google TV.
“We’re trying to do in the living room something similar to what we’ve done in the mobile phone space,” he said.
Google, Apple and other companies are fighting to get into the living room because people still spend so much time watching TV and advertisers spend so much money on TV ads. But first Internet TV has to be a better option than what consumers already have.
One plug connects Google TV, cable and Internet to the television set, which gives viewers a unified TV-watching experience, Mr. Quieroz said. The new design makes it easier to move among apps, TV shows and Web content, Mr. Chandra said.
With Google TV, people can view their cable channels and more than 80,000 shows and movies, some of them for a fee, on services like Amazon.com, Netflix, HBO Go and YouTube. Google improved search in the new version to make it easier to find what you are looking for.
Search for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” for instance, and see a list showing the next time it is playing on TV and where you can watch it online or on streaming services like Netflix. Or say you want to watch a romantic comedy, but don’t want to search the TV listings, Netflix and Amazon separately. Google will scan them all and offer personalized recommendations.
“Every time you fire up this app, we show you great content you can jump into right away,” Mr. Chandra said. “It shouldn’t matter whether it’s from the Web, TV, or a live sporting event from YouTube or ESPN.”
When television arrived, the first shows showed radio announcers speaking into microphones. Then TV producers realized what they could do differently with the new medium. Google says Internet TV is undergoing the same evolution, so that now it is offering made-for-TV apps instead of just slapping Web sites on the TV screen.
For example, Google redesigned the YouTube app so it feels more like TV. It’s faster, without lag time for buffering. YouTube listings show up alongside TV shows in searches and people can create their own TV channel based on a search query, like one with ballet or cooking videos from YouTube. The idea is for Web TV to have millions of channels, just as cable introduced hundreds.
“We’re looking for the next generation of MTV’s and HBO’s, just like cable,” Mr. Chandra said.
As it did with Android, Google is counting on software developers to build apps that make Google TV more useful.
Developers could previously offer apps for Google TV, which uses Google’s Android operating system, but they had to build them for Web browsers. Now Google TV connects with all of Android’s technology, so developers of mobile apps, for instance, can easily turn them into built-for-TV apps. To start, the app marketplace for Google TV has about 50 apps.
An app called Qello, for instance, licenses live concerts in high-definition, which makes much more sense on a TV than a phone. Another app, Thuuz, recommends the most exciting sporting events of right now, based on how close the games are and how many people are commenting about them online, which is also more useful on TV than on phones.
People with Google TV’s made by Sony will begin to get the software updates Sunday night and Logitech customers will get them next week, Google said.