Google TV is arguably the most versatile smart TV platform on the market. You’ll find it on some of the latest TVs from Sony and TCL. There is a simplified version for Android phones and you can get it for any TV by purchasing a Chromecast with Google TV dongle.
Plug the dongle into an HDMI port on your TV (or just turn on your TV if it has Google TV built in) and you’ll have access to a world of streaming content, from Google’s massive library to Amazon Prime, Netflix, Now TV, Disney+, Crunchyroll and more.
They are all delivered via an intuitive and elegant interface that you navigate using a remote control. Or you can send content directly from your phone with Chromecast-enabled apps.
However, there’s more to Google TV than just the services you can stream from when using it. Google TV’s many sides make it a true home entertainment hub. Here are some of the extras you might not have seen yet.
This is one of our favorite Google TV features: Interest List. It’s the antidote to spending hours browsing streaming libraries to find something to watch.
Whenever you access Google TV, just press a button on a TV show or movie list to add it to your interest list. This works like a list of content you plan to watch when you have time. But there’s more to it than that.
Your watchlist will also be used to inform the suggestions that Google TV displays on the home screen, and this will obviously include items actually on the list.
It won’t just display items from Google’s own library, either. Content from Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ features and more services will be added in the future.
Google TV brings all streaming services together in one place.
2. It’s a game console
Google TV may primarily be a video platform, but it’s also great for gaming. There’s more than one dimension to this side of Google TV too.
You can play various casual classics like Crossy Road and Asphalt 8 directly on Google TV. Connect a Bluetooth gamepad to Google TV and it will look a lot like a game console.
Not satisfied with the big screen versions of titles you can play on your phone? No problems. You can play Google Stadia instead.
This is Google’s game streaming service and it lets you play titles like Far Cry 6, Cyberpunk 2077, Control and Red Dead Redemption 2 without a PC or gaming console.
You can buy them from the Stadia store or subscribe to Stadia Pro for all-you-can-eat access to a huge library of games.
Stadia isn’t your only option either. Google TV lets you use competing services like Nvidia GeForce Now and Steam Link.
3. Profiles for children
If you have kids, Google TV lets you restrict their access (not available in all markets). That means you can let them loose on your smart TV system without keeping an eye on them all the time.
From the Who’s watching home screen, simply select your profile and then “add a child”.
They also don’t need a Google account, useful for younger kids who don’t yet have phone numbers or email addresses.
You can limit the apps these profiles have access to, set screen time limits by day and bedtime so they don’t end up playing content like adults.
4. Multi-room audio
Here’s a handy tip if you use a good soundbar or have a Chromecast with Google TV connected to an AV receiver and surround sound speaker system. Google TV appears as a Chromecast device in your phone’s apps.
This means you can easily stream music from services like Spotify directly to your Google TV device, using it as a music station.
Launch the Google Home app and you can also treat it as a multi-room speaker, controlling music from around the house.
This is one of the delights of Google TV and its related gadgets, they can always do more than you think they can.
5. Local network content streaming
Many of us have done “full streaming” these days, but Google TV is here for those of you who still like to keep a library of content stored locally, on a PC or NAS drive.
If you download one of the DLNA apps for Google TV, such as Plex, it turns the system into a convenient and fast way to access your music and video files, without a subscription.
Alternatively, if you have a Chromecast with Google TV, you can buy a USB-C hub and plug in a high-capacity USB drive or external hard drive loaded with music and videos.
This allows you to give direct access to a huge library of content without worrying about connecting it wirelessly.