Google TV adds voice search, new PrimeTime guide

by Casey Newton

For my second piece on Google TV this week, I visited its headquarters in Mountain View to see how its interface is evolving:

Usability has been the primary question about Google TV since it launched in 2010. Early reviewers found Google's first take on connected TV to be frustrating, and an update last year met with similar disdain. Confusing dialogue boxes, cryptic error messages, controllers with dozens of buttons -- there was plenty there to criticize.

Mario Queiroz, who runs Google TV, often tells employees that in the television business, you have to have a thick skin. The original device was so simple to use -- just press the power button and start watching -- that any connected television was bound to seem complicated by comparison.

And so, in characteristic Google fashion, engineers have continued to iterate on a platform they view as essential to the company's strategy of maintaining a strong presence on every connected screen in a person's life. While employees say they still see plenty of room for improvement, they also say Google TV is making rapid progress.

James Martin/CNET
James Martin/CNET