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Google introduces Android-powered Apple TV competitor


Google on Thursday announced Google TV, a new platform that aims to integrate both Web browsing and cable TV with one device running its Android operating system, set to arrive this fall.

As with Android smartphones, Google TV hardware will not be made by the search giant. Instead, hardware partners and HDTV makers will create devices that will run Google's operating system.

Google said that TV today is too complicated, with too many channels and a poor interface for finding the shows you want to see. They said many people these days end up watching videos on the Web, because it's much easier to find what you're looking for and watch it on your own schedule.

"The problem is, these smaller screens don't compare to our home entertainment system," the company says in a promotional video introducing Google TV.

The new service will come integrated into some HDTVs, while other users can buy Google TV through a separate set-top-box. Using an on-screen Google search box, users can type in what they are looking for and find it, either on the Web or through their cable TV.

"It's basically an entertainment hub that searches all of your channels, recorded shows, YouTube, and other websites," the video says.

Google TV will feature a home screen where users can quickly access their favorite locations, whether they're cable channels, YouTube channels, websites, or anything else on TV or on the Web.

Google TV also features the full Chrome Web browser, and has access to the Android Market, so users can download unique applications to run from their HDTV in the living room.

All devices running Google TV must have Wi-Fi and Ethernet built in. It offers integration with an existing cable or satellite set top box using HDMI, and comes with an infrared blaster to control them. Google TV hardware will also include a dedicated GPU, surround sound, a keyboard, and a pointing device.

Google TV represents yet another market in which the company will compete with Apple, maker of the Apple TV. Last summer, as both companies continued to enter the same markets, Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from the Apple Board of Directors as an investigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission was looking into the connections between the two companies.

Schmidt's move was seen as necessary as Google and Apple now compete in numerous markets in the technology sector: Google's Android mobile operating system competes with Apple's iPhone; both companies recently made large mobile advertising acquisitions; Google's forthcoming Chrome OS will see the company enter the traditional PC space; and the Chrome browser competes with Apple's Safari.