New Sony TVs join Google's own Chromecast in running the updated streaming platform.
At CNET our favorite smart TV system is the Roku platform, but it could face stiffer competition than ever later this year. ArCES Sony announced its latest lineup of televisions and all of them will run Google TV, the search giant's newest streaming system. The only other smart TV maker that has confirmed Google TV availability in the US is TCL.
Available since October on the aptly named Chromecast with Google TV, one of the best media streamers available, Google TV is the successor to Android TV. That streaming platform is found today on a handful of devices in the US -- namely the Nvidia Shield, the TiVo Stream 4K and smart TVs from Sony, Hisense and TCL -- but in terms of popularity and reviews, it lags far behind its rivals. In our review of the Chromecast we considered Google TV a marked improvement over Android TV.
When asked about whether 2020 or earlier Sony TVs running Android TV would get the upgrade, a Sony representative told CNET, "There is no concrete plan right now to add it to older models."
The availability of Google TV on 2021 Sony TVs was first confirmed by CNET in October, and it could come to other smart TVs this year as well. "We will be working with partners to see which products that are already in the field, or that are launching near-term, could be upgraded in 2021," John Gildred, Google's director of product development for Android TV, said in an interview at the time. He added that not every partner device in 2021 will get the Google TV experience, but by the following year he expects Google TV to completely replace its predecessor.
Compared with Android TV, Google TV has a few upgrades that the company says are all designed to make content easier to find across apps.
Like Android TV, Google TV can access Google Assistant onscreen, letting you search for TV shows and movies via voice, control smart home devices and even show a feed from Nest cameras (Sony's TVs also have a far-field mic for hands-free,
"Hey, Google" commands). Google says the platform has 6,500 apps, including HBO Max, Peacock and Apple TV Plus.
This isn't the first time Google has named a TV operating system after itself. The original Google TV debuted a decade ago on products like the Sony NSX-GT1 TV and the Logitech Revue set-top box, both of which received lukewarm reviews from CNET -- despite offering "cutting-edge" features like built-in Chrome browsers and QWERTY remotes. The original Google TV was succeeded in 2014 by, you guessed it, Android TV.