Google TV is arguably the most versatile smart TV platform. You’ll find it in 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 Google TV is integrated) and it opens up a world of streaming content for you, from Google’s own massive library to Amazon Prime, Netflix, Now TV, Disney +, Crunchyroll and more.
They all come through a sleek and intuitive interface that you navigate using a remote control. Or you can cast content right from your phone with apps that support Chromecast.
However, Google TV isn’t just about the services you can stream when you use it. The many aspects of Google TV make it a true home entertainment hub. Here are some of the extras you may not have seen yet.
It’s one of our favorite Google TV features: the Watchlist. It’s the antidote to spending hours browsing streaming libraries for something to watch.
Whenever you explore Google TV, you can simply press a button on a TV show or movie list to add it to your watchlist. It acts like a list of content that you plan to watch when you have the time. But there is more to it.
Your watchlist will also be used to notify suggestions that Google TV displays on the home screen, and this will of course include what is actually on the list.
It won’t just contain items from Google’s own library. Content for Amazon Prime Video and Disney + features and other services will be added in the future.
Google TV brings all the streaming services together in one place.
2. It is a game console
Google TV may be primarily a video platform, but it’s also great for gaming. There is also more than one dimension to this side of Google TV.
You can play many casual classics like Crossy Road and Asphalt 8 right on Google TV. Connect a bluetooth gamepad to Google TV and it looks a lot like a game console.
Not happy with the big screen versions of the titles you could play on your phone? No problem. 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 game console.
You can either buy them in the Stadia Store or sign up for Stadia Pro for unlimited 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 instead.
3. Profiles for children
If you have children, Google TV allows you to restrict their access (not available in all markets). This means that you can let them roam free on the smart TV system without monitoring them all the time.
From the Who’s Watching home screen, simply select your profile, then “add a child”.
They also don’t need a Google account, which is handy for young children who don’t yet have a phone or email address.
You can limit which apps these profiles have access to, set limits on screen time per day and a bedtime, so they don’t end up gorging on 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 plugged into an AV receiver and surround speaker system. Google TV shows up as a Chromecast device in your phone’s apps.
This means that you can easily play songs from services like Spotify directly on 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 songs from around the house.
This is one of the delicacies of Google TV and its associated gadgets, they can always do more than you think.
5. Stream content over the local network
A lot of us have made the switch to “full streaming” these days, but Google TV is here for those who still like to keep a library of content stored locally, on a PC or NAS drive.
If you download any of the DLNA apps for Google TV, like 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 stick or external hard drive loaded with music and videos.
This allows you to give it direct access to a huge library of content without worrying about connecting it wirelessly.
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