Google said today that it will begin rolling out four major updates to the GoogleTV service that was launched earlier this year. That's a good thing.
I'm a fan of what Google TV might become, though I wasn't initially blown away but what it looked like upon launch. I've been toying with a Logitech Revue unit and, while it was fun at the beginning, found it too limited and too clunky to give it a permanent spot next to the TV. (It's still there on a temporary basis.)
The four updates announced today are good first steps at making the service better - but still not enough to make it a must-have. The updates are:
A better Netflix app that allows users to search for movies to stream and even order DVDs to be mailed. One of my earliest beefs with Google TV's Netflix app was the limited capabilities. Before, I had to go to my PC and log into Netflix to surf for streaming movies and add them to my queue so they could sync to Google TV. Yeah, that got old fast. So this is definitely an improvement.
The Dual View feature, or what I call the picture-in-picture feature, now allows users to resize those windows for more seamless viewing and web surfing at the same time. Personally, this does nothing for me. I like Google TV to search for video programming, not to tweet or go on Facebook or check e-mail. More customization is always good, I suppose, if you're someone who's into watching and surfing at the same time.
An enhanced remote control for Android phones now allows for voice search. That's kind of cool. I didn't care much for the big bulky computer-like keyboard that came with the unit so I was quick to install the Android app - and it's worked like a charm. My biggest issue with it, however, was typing in searches. Now that the voice recognition technology on Android is better, this should make the Google TV experience better, as well.
Enhanced movie results is probably something that Google TV users will come to appreciate over time. This is basically enhancing the search capabilities on the platform by allowing users to dig deeper - such as researching actors and discovering more content to watch. Again, if it enhances the experience of using Google TV to allow for better movie watching, then go for it.
The Android remote control app is available now in the Android Marketplace but won't be at 100 percent until the Google TV unit is updated, as well.