Google provides vision of 'the future of television' with web integration

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The Independent Online

Google has marched on the television industry, with the launch of a system designed to fully integrate the internet with TV in a bid to "usher in a new category of devices for the living room".

The internet giant yesterday announced it was to launch Google TV at its I/O developer conference in San Francisco.

The company officially revealed the details of the product that "combines the TV that you already know with the freedom and power of the internet" after information leaked out earlier in the week.

Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, said yesterday: "We've been waiting a long time for today. It took a lot to make it happen."

The system, which is built on Google's Android platform and runs its Chrome browser, is designed to allow users to navigate through channels, websites, applications and streaming video all via the television screen. It will also turn the TV into a games machine, music player and a photo viewer, and will run Android's mobile applications.

Google product manager, Rishi Chandra, said: "As other technologies have evolved and changed, TV has remained the same. Increasingly more and more experiences in the living room are not happening on the TV." He said people are accessing entertainment over the internet on their mobile phones and their laptops.

While many companies have tried to bring the internet to TV, he said, results have been disappointing. "We wanted to find a way to bring the entire web to the TV," adding: "We believe it requires taking the best of TV and the best of the web and bringing them into a single, seamless experience." The demos showed how viewers could search for their favourite programmes through the TV and the internet via an internet-style search bar. "We've gone from 150 channels to one million overnight. And it's all available via the web browser," Mr Chandra said.

The channels can also run alongside web browsing on a split screen. Sony is to integrate the system into a range of TVs and Blu-ray players and set-top boxes will be developed by Logitec. Mr Chandra said: "By bringing the best TV has to offer and the best the web has to offer, Google TV can produce the most comprehensive, accessible and personalised experience." The system is to launch in the US this autumn.

Yesterday Google also announced the latest update to its Android operating system for mobiles, including its support for Adobe Flash. This was seen as a dig at Apple, which does not.