What is Google TV and how is it different from Android TV?

Chromecast With Google Tv Lifestyle Blue
Chromecast With Google Tv Lifestyle Blue (Image credit: Google)

Best answer: Google TV is a new interface for Android TV that is powered by Google's machine learning, Google Assistant and the Google Knowledge Graph. It also reorganizes your content to help make it easier for you to find what you want to work.

Google TV is the next stage of Android TV

Google TV For You Tab

Source: Google TV (Image credit: Source: Google TV)

To start things off, Google TV is not replacing Android TV, because Google TV is not an operating system. Google TV is a new interface built on top of Android TV's operating system. Rather than your home screen being dominated by apps that you have to dig through separately, the new home screen interface on Google TV is centered around content first and foremost.

Google's Shalini Govilpai explained:

We studied the different ways people discover media—from searching for a specific title to browsing by genre—and created an experience that helps you find what to watch. We also made improvements to Google's Knowledge Graph, which is part of how we better understand and organize your media into topics and genres, from movies about space travel to reality shows about cooking. You'll also see titles that are trending on Google Search, so you can always find something timely and relevant.

Google Assistant is front and center, and you'll likely be using the Google Assistant button on your Android TV — or for right now, the Chromecast with Google TV (opens in new tab) — a lot to summon up something to watch. Google Assistant and the Knowledge Graph team up to give you the exactly what you ask for when you ask Assistant to "find romance movies" or "show me sci-fi TV shows", whether the shows are on Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, or other services.

Google TV Live Tab

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

When you search for shows on your phone or TV, you'll also be able to add them to your Watchlist so you can easily access them once you get back to the big screen. Google TV also has better integration for Live TV services, starting with YouTube TV right now and more subscriptions next year.

How is Google TV different from Android TV?

Google TV is a new software interface that sits on top of the Android TV operating system, so any TV or set-top box running Google TV is really running Google TV on top of Android TV. This also means that everything running Android TV right now might get upgraded to Google TV

What devices are getting Google TV?

Right now, Google TV is launching on the new Chromecast with Google TV, but Google has confirmed that other Android TVs and Android TV boxes will be getting Google TV starting in 2021. For right now, the only TVs we know are slated for the update are Sony Android TVs, but even then we're not sure which exact models are included.

As far as Android TV boxes, like the NVIDIA Shield TV, we have no clue when they might receive Google TV, but particularly in the case of the Shield TV, don't expect it anytime soon. NVIDIA is very hands-on when it comes to how its set-top box performs for its users, and it won't go ahead with a major interface overhaul like this before it is abundantly clear that this new UI is really better for its users compared to the current Leanback interface.

You'll be able to play with at least part of Google TV very soon, though. The Google Play Movies & TV app is being updated to become the Google TV app (opens in new tab) and will serve as a place for you to browse for something to watch, purchase movies and TV shows, and moderate your Watchlist.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.