Google TV update adds voice search, PrimeTime guide

By on November 14, 2012, 11:34 AM

Unfazed by the lukewarm reception its Google TV platform has seen so far, the search giant is moving ahead with its efforts to blend Internet entertainment with traditional television programming and conquer people’s living rooms. Today, the company announced a handful of updates designed to make it easier for users to navigate content, including Voice Search and a new Quick Guide.

The update will launch on LG devices first and will enable users to search for movies and TV shows, open applications, and even surf to websites by using voice recognition technology. The functionality will also work across multiple apps so you’ll be able to search and play content from within YouTube or Netflix, for example.

Similar functionality is already available on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 with Kinect and on Samsung’s own TV platform. However, GigaOM notes that one key advantage to Google’s approach is the use of context to make sense of what people are saying. So if you say “CNN” Google TV will switch to that channel accordingly, while saying “Pixar movies” shows on-demand results and “how do I cook marinara sauce” fires up a YouTube video.

Of course, it remains to be seen how accurate the voice search feature is in real world scenarios. The technology is based on Google’s Knowledge Graph, which also powers Google Now on Android devices.

Beyond voice search, Google renamed its TV & Movies digital video store to “PrimeTime” and added a quick guide view designed to make discovery easier. The latter allows you to browse content through a subtle overlay at the bottom of the screen without interrupting what you’re watching at the moment. PrimeTime will also tap into Google’s Knowledge Graph to recommend shows based on what you are watching or have watched.

Google TV 3.0 will reportedly roll out to folks with LG Google TVs this week, while second-generation Sony streaming devices as well as the Vizio CoStar should get it in the coming months. Early adopters who bought a first-generation Google TV device will get the new PrimeTime app but not the voice search features.

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