For years, Android TV has reigned supreme as the best smart TV operating system (not a matter of opinion, just fact). But now Google, who owns Android TV, has released a new TV OS, Google TV, to rival its own existing OS. What’s the verdict? Is Google TV better than Android TV? The short answer is yes!
In this article, we will look at the relationship between Google TV and Android TV so you can see how they both fit into the smart TV ecosystem. We’ll also explain what is similar about the two OS (which is a lot since Google TV is built on top of Android TV) and what differentiates them, and in our opinion, makes Google TV a better TV OS.
We’ll then address the question of which OS you should be investing in, Google TV or Android TV. Spoiler alert! There’s not much in it, and Android TV is looking more like Google TV every day. While I would choose either OS over any other operating system, when it comes to choosing between the two, I could focus on which hardware you want rather than whether it is running Google or Android TV.
Features Table: Google TV vs Android TV
|App Store||Google Play Store||Google Play Store|
|Casting||ChromeCast Functionality||ChromeCast Functionality|
|Smart Home||Google Assistant||Google Assistant|
|Profiles||Individual user profiles||Single-user profile|
|Personalized Content Recommendations||Excellent||Fair|
|Live TV||Dedicated menu with preview content||Buried in specific apps|
What’s The Connection Between Google TV And Android TV?
Google TV vs. Android TV… Wait, doesn’t Google own Android? Yes, that’s right, Google has owned Android since 2005, and it is the operating system that powers many smartphones around the world.
In 2014, an Android TV operating system was released to give users the same functionality on their streaming devices as they get on their mobile phones but tweaked to work on big screens that you control with your remote rather than little touch screens. The OS is also tweaked to focus more on entertainment and streaming content, which is the primary purpose of an Android streaming device but while maintaining the flexibility of an Android smartphone.
The Android TV operating system is so good that it became the basis for many of the big streaming hardware suppliers including Sharp and Sony. Even Amazon Fire TV is built on top of Android. It is also the OS on some of the most popular streaming boxes, such as the NVIDIA Shield.
But in 2020, Google also released Google TV as a competing operating system to Android TV, which continues to be updated. It is also built on top of the Android operating system. This became the default operating system for Google’s hardware partners, such as Sony TVs.
While its nuts and bolts are provided by the Android operating system, the Google layer on top is more focused on providing a streamlined TV experience than Android TV ever has been. It is more intuitive, content-focused, and feels more like you are inside one of the highly polished streaming apps like Netflix except with access to the world wide web.
For the moment, the two coexist with some hardware manufacturers, like Sony, using Google TV, and others, like NVIDIA, using Android. But while Google is currently maintaining the two separate OS, it is unclear whether they plan to streamline their TV offer in the future.
Similarities And Differences
While we have given a general idea of the similarities and differences between Google and Android TV, let’s get more specific.
Both Google TV and Android TV are based on the Android OS that also powers smartphones, so they are based on the same code. It also means that they deliver content in the same way via the Google Play Store, so they have access to the same selection of apps.
Both systems are also designed to give users a level of flexibility if they want to go outside the curated user experience. Within both, you can enable developer options and sideload applications if you want to do more with your device.
Both also include classic Google features like the Chromecast and the latest releases, such as voice control and smart home integrations via Google.
Differences: Content Display & Recommendations
Android TV is very much an adaptation of the Android smartphone OS for TV. This means that it is principally based around apps. On TV, this manifests as recommendations being app-specific rather than universal.
Google TV gets out of the app-centric approach to create a more universal menu and recommendations system based on the apps that you have and the content available but also machine learning, Google Assistant, and Google’s Knowledge Graph that provides information on user habits.
This means that Google TV can provide a much slicker interface with recommendations and content at the top of the menu rather than apps. There are previews and related content that present in much the same way as Netflix presents except content is pulled from all your apps.
Also, while Android TV puts streaming services first, Google TV has done a better job of accommodating live TV, with a dedicated tab that can display previews of active broadcasts pulled from live TV apps such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, and Hulu TV.
With all of this highlighted content, click on what interests you, and you will be taken there directly. This contrasts with Android TV, which makes you open the app that has the content that you want separately.
Differences: User Profiles
Another Google feature that has been added to the new OS is user profiles. Just like you pick your profile when you open Google Chrome, you will do the same with Google TV.
This is great for kids since you can apply parental controls and restrictions to these profiles specifically. On Android TV, these restrictions are applied universally. You can also create different profiles for individual adults so that each can receive personal recommendations based on their individual taste. On Android TV, you have to sign all the way out of the system to sign in with a different user profile.
Should I Choose Google Or Android TV?
At the moment, you don’t actually have much of a choice when it comes to Google or Android TV. All new devices from Google’s big partners, such as Sony, are coming with Google TV. But new devices from other partners such as NVIDIA and Xiaomi are still coming with Android TV, though this OS is also being constantly upgraded. Android TV 13 is currently in Beta, and with each upgrade, it looks more like Google TV.
It is unclear when or if Google intends on phasing out Android OS for TV to focus specifically on Google.
For now, while we would definitely say that Google TV is the superior TV operating system, it is not so much better that I would make my decision on that basis. While I would certainly choose an Android- or Google-powered device over an Apple- or Roku-powered device because of their locked-down operating systems, when it comes to Google or Android, I would make my decision based on the hardware rather than the OS.
If I want a fully integrated smart TV, I’d grab myself a new TV from Sony, which I know uses the Google OS. But if I want a device for gaming and running Kodi, I would still choose the NVIDIA Shield, which operates on Android TV.
For the time being, we’re just waiting to see what Google does next with their TV operating systems. But whatever it is, we are excited.
Is Google TV the same as Android TV?
Google TV is built on Android TV and looks to be the next evolution of the TV OS. However, Android TV is still available and being updated. For the time being, Android appears to be Google’s legacy, stable OS for TV while Google is its new innovative approach. We will probably see streamlining in their approach over the coming years.
Is Android TV a Google product?
Yes, Google owns the Android operating OS and the Android TV OS.
Can I install Google TV on my Android TV?
You cannot install the Google TV OS on hardware with Android OS as you cannot change the fundamental OS of a hardware. However, you can install a Google TV launcher on an Android TV device to make it look and behave as though it is running Google TV.