Their inefficient menus, inability to search across different areas of programming, and general lack of ability to play media from our local networks and cloud-based services feels like a throwback to simpler times — not quite as dated as a butter churn, but close.
Some of this is by design. The television industry is understandably reticent to add new features – not to mention the entire internet and every Android app — to something as popular and lucrative as cable/satellite television. But change is knocking on the door, as both Apple and Google release solutions for delivering app-and web-based content to televisions.
Reinventing television and expanding the scope of its programming without offending key stakeholders is no easy feat. After Google TV was widely criticized as half-baked, the New York Times reported on Sunday that Google has asked its partner manufacturers of televisions, Blu-ray players, and other set-top boxes not to unveil those devices at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, which takes place in under three weeks.
Their reasoning, according to the Times‘ manufacturer sources, is that Google TV’s app capabilities are not quite there yet:
“Now the TV makers have been asked to hold off on releasing products until Google completes the new version of its software, adding features like an application store.”
Google TV already runs a limited selection of pre-loaded apps (Amazon, Pandora, Napster, NetFlix, YouTube and more). Once any Android app developer can release Google TV apps, music listeners and creators stand to gain significantly. Finally, the best music sources in the world will be connected to the best speakers in the house, through the best remote controls most people can afford (a smartphone). Not only will this facilitate higher-fidelity audio, but it means that all of these exciting interactive music apps will run on televisions and nice speakers too.
Picture browsing the world of music through artist relationships on a 3D television; it would be a far cry from squinting at your smartphone screen.
Forrester analyst James McQuivey waxed eloquent to the Times about the nature of the delay:
“You can give me the recipe for the absolute best chocolate chip cookies in the world, but until I put the ingredients together and bake them at exactly the right temperature for the right time, they’re not cookies, and that’s where Google TV is.”
Evolver.fm plans to cover the intersection of hardware and music apps at CES in January — but not, it would seem, the eagerly-anticipated, Android-app capable version of Google TV. Google still promises its release early next year, so “stay tuned,” as we used to say.