Google TV is getting a more personal touch, as it keeps gunning the motor in an ongoing race to get out ahead of other streaming platforms like Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV.
Google TV is the internet behemoth’s entertainment interface that melds together streaming video services (including live TV), movies, shows and other apps. It’s embedded into Google’s latest-generation Chromecast streaming dongle and smart TVs from Sony and TCL.
Coming soon to Google TV: support for multiple user profiles that let anyone in the home set up their own personalized space with their Google Account; and at-a-glance information “cards” based on your profile that appear on the TV when it’s turned on but not in use.
Google TV will let you create up to 12 profiles per connected-TV device. With individual profiles, users will get their own TV and movie recommendations (based on your TV viewing history) and watchlists. Google TV also will support kids’ profiles that can be managed by a parent or guardian. The Google TV profiles are also linked to your account’s Google Assistant, letting you ask for recommendations by saying, “What should I watch?” or pulling up your calendar by saying “Show me my day.”
Google TV already lets you set your TV to scroll through Google Photos when the set is idle. With the ambient-mode cards, you can configure it to display information like sports scores, weather and news based on your profile. The feature also provides on-screen shortcuts to let you launch photos or start playing music and podcasts with one click.
Here’s a mock-up of what the ambient-mode cards look like on Google TV:
Google also announced that a virtual remote for Google TV is coming soon to the Google Home app (both iOS and Android versions). Last month, it launched a Google TV remote-control app for Android only, replacing the previous Android TV remote.
In addition, Google TV has integrated streaming pay-TV service Philo into its live TV features, joining YouTube TV and Dish’s Sling TV. After adding Philo as your live TV provider, you’ll see your favorite shows on Google TV’s Live TV tab and in your recommendations.
Google says support for profiles and ambient-mode cards will begin rolling out on Chromecast with Google TV and Google TVs from Sony and TCL “soon.” Profiles will be available worldwide, while ambient-modes cards will first be available only in the U.S. Google noted that some of the new features and/or their availability may vary by device manufacturer.