(Pocket-lint) - In 2020, Google launched a new Chromecast device running Google TV and there have been additional announcements for Google TV devices in 2021.

If you're wondering what happened to Android TV, or just want to know more about Google TV, here is what you need to know.

What is Google TV?

  • Google TV is all about content

Google TV is a new interface for Android TV, powered by Google's machine learning, Google Assistant, and the Google Knowledge Graph. It does not replace Android TV. Google TV isn't even an operating system. Think of it as something built on top of Android TV, designed to make it easier for you to find the content you want. Gone are the days of searching a cluttered home screen to find a streaming service.

Google TV is a software layer, or interface, running on top of Android TV, Google's fully-fledged operating system for set-top boxes, streaming devices, and smart TVs. It's smarter and meant to optimise the existing Android TV experience so that's it's more intuitive and useful.

For more about Android TV, specifically, see our guide here.

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How does Google TV work?

  • Uses Knowledge Graph, Google Assistant, and machine learning

When coming up with Google TV, Google it studied the different ways that people discover media, whether it's searching for a title or browsing aimlessly. It improved the Knowledge Graph and used machine learning to better understand how to move that information into topics and genres. The aim is to boost discovery and make sure you're never left wondering what to watch.

The interface is divided into a number of tabs, allowing you to browse by movies, shows, apps or to access your library, which contains content you've previously purchased from Google via Play Movies & TV. Content is recommended to you based on your profile - you have to be signed in to use it - and will draw from the streaming services that you're signed into. If you watch Netflix and Disney+, you'll likely see it dominated by content from those services, but you'll also see trending recommendations, often showing you new releases on services to to buy. 

Navigation is simple, but the biggest drawback is a lack of profile support at a top level. While individual services (like Netflix or Amazon Video) will support user profiles, there's no user profiles for Google TV as a whole. That means that in a family environment, everyone is accessing the same recommendations regardless of age or preference. 

Google TV supports Live TV services, too, starting with YouTube TV in the US. You can also add movies and shows you find to a Watchlist.

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What devices run Google TV?

Google TV launched first on the Chromecast with Google TV

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In 2021, Sony confirmed that it would be offering Google TV on its new Bravia XR range of televisions that will be launching through the year. TCL has also confirmed that it will be launching a Google TV series of televisions in 2021. We expect there will be other manufacturers too, most likely those who have launched Android TVs in the past.

Google TV is also live for Android phone users in the US. The Google Play Movies and TV app updated on 30 September 2020, and it has been rebranded as the Google TV app. It lets you browse for something to watch, buy or rent movies and TV shows, and manage your Watchlist.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Chris Hall.