Google has dropped a bombshell that could change the way we watch television in the future, with the announcement that it is entering into an agreement with a number of TV makers to bring the Google experience to the television.
In a power play move against Apple, Microsoft with its Media Center and regular set-top box makers, Google TV will be an open platform that "adds the power of the web to the television viewing experience".
So far backing the move are Intel, Sony, and Logitech, together with Best Buy, DISH Network and Adobe, although not Apple, or companies like Sky, Tivo, or Cablevision in the US.
"With Google TV, consumers will now be able to search and watch an expanded universe of content available from a variety of sources including TV providers, the web, their personal content libraries, and mobile applications", Google boasts in a statement about the new partnerships.
As you might expect, Google TV is based on the Android platform and runs the Google Chrome web browser.
Users can access all of their usual TV channels as well as a world of internet and cloud-based information and applications - including Adobe Flash based content - all from the comfort of their own living room and with the same simplicity as browsing the Web.
Television makers are already starting to embrace internet connectivity with both Samsung and Sony bringing new TVs to market in the UK that offer services like YouTube and film streaming service LoveFilm, as long as you've got an internet connection.
While Google is providing the software, intel will provide the hardware (an Intel Atom processor CE4100 if you must know).
Already just hours after the announcement both Sony and Logitech have said they would be delivering products based on the new Intel Atom processor and running Google TV later this year, presumably at German home cinema tech show IFA.
"The Google TV experience is complemented by the ability to watch streaming video from leading content platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, and YouTube. Google TV will also have the capability to run apps from the Android Market", claims Google as it pushes its brand of operating system into yet another area of the consumer electronics market.
Google TV will introduce an integrated search experience to help viewers easily find relevant content across over-the-air and pay-TV channel listings, DVR, and the Internet, as well as a picture-in-picture layout to access multiple windows simultaneously.
“We are very proud to be working with this distinguished set of partners, all of whom have decades of experience in hardware, design and retail", said Google's CEO Eric Schmidt.
Sony announced plans to introduce “Sony Internet TV”, the World’s first TV lineup incorporating the Google TV platform. The first models are planned to be introduced in the U.S. market in the autumn of 2010, with the lineup featuring both a standalone TV model and set top box-type unit incorporating a Blu-ray Disc drive.
Logitech will introduce a companion box that brings Google TV to existing HDTV home entertainment systems, easily integrating with any brand of HDTV and set-top box.
The companion box will incorporate Logitech’s Harmony remote control technology, and will include a controller that combines keyboard and remote control capabilities.
The company also has plans to introduce an HDTV camera and video chat for Google TV, along with additional choices for navigation and control, including apps to turn a smart phone into an advanced controller for Google TV and home-entertainment systems.
Best Buy will bring its retail experience and consumer expertise to the project, with Google TV devices being sold at Best Buy locations nationwide later this year.
Finally, Adobe Flash Player 10.1 will be integrated directly into the Google Chrome browser on Google TV, enabling viewers to experience tens of millions of web pages with rich Flash content including games, animations, applications, videos, audio and more.