You probably use Google for search on your computer. You may own a phone that uses Google's Android operating system. Now, Google is trying to take over your television, and open up all of the content on the Internet to smart phones and TVs.
On May 20, Google made two big announcements. The first was about a new version of Android. The new operating system will make it possible for mobile phones to use web sites with animations, videos and other content created with Adobe's Flash.
Google's big show-stealer, however, was the company's announcement about its much-anticipated Google TV technology. Google TV will give television sets the ability to search live television, digital recordings, and the whole web for movies, TV shows, and videos, and get access to them immediately.
It turns out that the Android development at Netflix I previously reported was for a Netflix app that will be built into Google TV—though a mobile Netflix app may still be in the works. Netflix and Amazon's Video On Demand service are both included in Google TV's search results.
As I've reported earlier, Google has been working on a television technology with Dish Networks for some time. Dish Networks' set-top box will have Google TV built in, and Sony will sell televisions and Blu-Ray DVD players with Google TV embedded in them. Logitech will also be making an add-on box for existing HDTVs.
The New York Times' Brad Stone reports, however, that the Google TV demos were a little clunky. In order for Google TV to be really useful, it has to be painless and simple to use. And it's not clear that the first generation of Google TV will fully meet its potential. If you're not prepared to be a paying "beta tester" of the technology for Google, and suffer through the early hiccups, it might be best to give them some more time to get the bugs out before buying a TV with Google TV built in.
On the other hand, the new Android operating system boasts some nice new features that will make Android a lot more useful and usable to many people. One of them is the ability to "tether" your phone to your laptop and use it for Internet access when you can't find a wireless connection. Also (as I predicted in January), Google has included the ability to use an Android phone as a mobile WiFi hotspot for multiple devices. If you travel a lot, or just don't want to pay for hotel WiFi to check your email from your laptop, these are great wins—you won't have to buy a USB plug-in card (and a second cell-phone account) from your wireless provider to get to the Internet.