Google TV set for major refresh

Google TV gets better apps, new interface, improved search.

Google TV is getting an overhaul, Google reps announced today.

According to a new biography, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was actively developing an Apple TV prototype – a prototype that Bloomberg News says is being steered by the same guy who helped build iTunes. Of course, the Apple TV, if it ever arrives, is likely a ways off. In the meantime, here's something concrete: Google TV is getting a major overhaul, which will strip down the interface, add TV-optimized Android apps, and improve search functionality.

In a post at the Google TV blog, exec Mario Queiroz says the software refresh – which will be available this weekend via an over-the-air update – boils down to four distinct bullet points. First, the platform will get a "new YouTube experience specifically built for Google TV." Second, it will get a simpler interface. Third, it will make it easy to hunt for content on Live TV, Netflix, YouTube, and HBO GO. Fourth, there will be an influx of apps.

"50 developers have seeded the Market with cool and useful apps for the TV," Queiroz wrote, and more apps are expected soon.

"Given so much choice, we’re committed to delivering the best way to discover and engage with the high-quality entertainment on your television, whether that comes from your cable or satellite provider (DISH, Comcast, DIRECTV, etc.) or from the Web (YouTube, Netflix, and thousands more)," Queiroz wrote. "The initial version of Google TV wasn’t perfect, but launching it gave us the opportunity to learn."

"These are still early days," he added, "and we’re working hard to move forward with each update."

In related news, this week a research firm called ABI announced that Android, long the king of the US smartphone wars, had also become the leader in app downloads. ABI estimates that in the second quarter of 2011, Android was responsible for 44 percent of all mobile app downloads, compared to 31 percent on Apple's iOS. "Android’s open source strategy is the main factor for its success," ABI wrote in a press release.

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