Published on October 24th, 2023
There’s little room for doubt when it comes to acknowledging Google’s profound influence in the realm of technology.
This tech giant not only reigns supreme with the world’s most widely used search engine but has also made significant strides by launching a range of highly successful smartphones, smartwatches, and smart home gadgets.
Moreover, its exclusive version of the Android operating system powers the majority of non-Apple smartphones.
Notably, Google has made significant inroads into home entertainment systems with the introduction of Google TV in September 2020.
Conversely, Google’s alternative operating system, Android TV, has been at the forefront of smart TVs and the finest streaming devices for almost a decade, since 2014. This naturally raises the question: What sets these two apart?
In straightforward terms, Google TV is the more contemporary iteration of the two. It boasts an expanded set of features, enhanced compatibility, and a superior user experience.
On the flip side, Android TV stands out for its cost-effectiveness, as it relies on an older operating system.
Depending on your specific requirements, both options come with their own set of advantages and drawbacks. Therefore, we will delve into the primary distinctions between Google TV and Android TV.
What Is Google TV?
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In 2020, Google TV made its debut on television screens alongside the introduction of the Chromecast with Google TV, a streaming dongle aptly named for the occasion.
Google TV has become the default smart TV interface for newly-released TVs and set-top boxes powered by Google, offered by leading manufacturers.
Rather than serving as an entirely new operating system, Google TV functions as a software layer that operates on top of Android TV. Consequently, these two platforms share numerous similarities.
Much like how launchers provide a fresh look and added features to Android smartphones, Google TV brings forth a novel user interface with a distinct visual style, while still relying on Android TV as the foundation for the user experience.
Consequently, Android TV remains fully functional and continues to receive updates, with the latest one being as recent as December 2022.
Additionally, the updated Google TV interface not only sports a more refined design but also places a stronger emphasis on personalized content utilizing artificial intelligence.
It introduces a dedicated section for live broadcasts and provides additional smart home capabilities.
Users can also employ a mobile remote via the Google TV app, along with various other enhancements that enhance the overall user experience.
What Is Android TV?
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Debuting in June 2014, Android TV emerged as a transformative force in the realm of home entertainment technology, setting itself as a competitor to Apple TV, its iOS-powered counterpart.
Built upon the Android mobile operating system, Android TV grants users access to the Google Play Store, where they can access a wide array of apps and games directly on their television screens.
It also boasts convenient functionalities, including Google Cast support and voice control via Google Assistant.
Sharp and Sony swiftly embraced Android TV as a middleware solution for their smart TVs, which, in turn, prompted the market to introduce a variety of smart TV boxes preloaded with this operating system.
At the heart of the Android TV experience lies its home screen interface, which actively promotes content discovery by offering recommendations from your installed apps and subscription services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, and YouTube.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that this aspect of the platform was further enhanced with the introduction of Google TV.
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What Are The Common Traits Between Google TV And Android TV?
Android TV and Google TV serve as television operating systems developed by Android, enabling users to consume and engage with content seamlessly.
Both platforms provide access to an extensive collection of smart TV applications, streaming services, and gaming opportunities.
Furthermore, they encompass functionality for voice commands via Google Assistant, smart home management, Chromecast casting, and media streaming.
But when it comes to discerning the main distinctions between Android TV and Google TV, a closer examination reveals a range of differences.
While these two television operating systems share numerous similarities, it’s the finer details that set them apart. Here, we highlight some of the key disparities between the two platforms.
The way Google TV and Android TV approach content discovery on their homepages sets them apart.
Android TV offers recommendations rooted in streaming apps rather than personalized preferences.
On the other hand, Google TV leverages machine learning, Google Assistant, and Google’s Knowledge Graph database to understand your viewing habits and tailor the homepage accordingly.
Google TV effectively utilizes this data to curate the “For You” tab, presenting pertinent promotions and region-specific content, making for a more personalized and informative viewing experience.
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Google TV features a dedicated live TV tab that showcases previews of ongoing broadcasts from services like Sling TV and YouTube TV.
If you come across something that catches your eye, simply tap the thumbnail to instantly dive into the live broadcast, eliminating the need to open multiple apps in search of something to watch.
Smart home devices
If you’ve integrated a Google Home device into your smart home setup, it’s highly advisable to configure Google TV, as it offers expanded compatibility with various smart home devices.
With Google TV, you can effortlessly employ voice commands to power up your television, adjust the volume, and even launch your preferred spine-chilling movie from Netflix.
Beyond voice commands, Google TV provides an extensive range of functionalities. It enables you to access live feeds from security cameras and take control of smart lighting within your home.
This means you can easily illuminate your surroundings and verify that the front door is securely locked before indulging in an especially hair-raising movie or series.
Another distinguishing feature pertains to user profiles and parental controls. In contrast to Android TV, Google TV provides support for multiple user profiles designed for children under a single adult’s Google account, tailoring personal recommendations for each.
When it comes to content restrictions, Android TV manages this through its system-wide parental settings.
On the other hand, Google TV allows you to establish child user profiles equipped with specific content boundaries, which can be easily managed through the Google Family Link service.
Losing the remote control can be quite a hassle, but Google TV has a convenient backup solution.
To access the Google TV app, simply locate the mobile remote button in the lower-right corner.
When you press it, you can take charge of your Google TV interface using your smartphone, eliminating the need to frantically search for the lost remote and providing you with ample time to locate it.
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Can Android TV Devices Be Upgraded To Google TV?
While most new devices powered by Google, including Sony Bravia and TCL TVs, come preloaded with Google TV right out of the box, the prospects for older Android TV devices receiving an upgrade to the new platform appear dim.
However, there’s a silver lining for owners of existing Android TV equipment, as they won’t be left in the lurch.
Recent updates for select Android TV devices, such as the NVIDIA Shield, Xiaomi Mi set-top boxes, and certain Sony TVs, have introduced a revamped user interface that closely resembles Google TV.
This revamped interface showcases large, circular app icons on the left side, alongside some of Google TV’s latest features.
Among these added features are the Discover tab, which offers content recommendations grouped by genre, and the Watchlist feature.
Positioned under the Library section tab, Watchlist enables you to add movies and TV shows you’d like to watch at a later time.
Is An Android TV Worth Getting?
If you find yourself in the market for a new smart TV and are faced with the choice between Android TV and Google TV, you’re likely considering an older model.
Starting in 2020, Google has exclusively shipped devices with the newer Google TV interface. As a result, Android TVs are becoming increasingly scarce over time, and not in the collectible sense like baseball cards.
Consequently, our recommendation typically leans toward Google TV, given its richer feature set, enhanced functionality, and user-friendly interface. Moreover, as Google’s primary focus, it tends to receive more frequent updates.
Conversely, Android TVs generally come at a more budget-friendly price point, although they may have a shorter expected lifespan.
If you’re looking to be frugal, an Android TV can be a reasonable choice. After all, the operating system continues to receive updates, with the most recent one being in December 2022, ensuring that you’re not dealing with outdated technology.
Feature Image Source: Jonas Leupe
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