Android TV vs. Google TV: Which Smart TV is Best?

Man holding smart tv remote

Android TV vs. Google TV: Which Smart TV is Best?

Smart products are all the rage these days, and they show no signs of going anywhere anytime soon.

From our phones to our fridges and everything in between, the convenience of smart tech plays a key role in our daily lives. Through a combination of data analysis, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and state-of-the-art applications and features, our products are truly smart and easier to use than ever before.

Take Android TV and Google TV, for instance. These two smart TV brands perfectly encapsulate the growth trajectory that smart tech has taken over the past decade or so.

But how do the two stack up against one another? How do their respective specs compare? And, which one is the better smart TV?

Let’s take a look at the two brands and their respective histories and features to find the answer.

Family watching a movie

Currently, Google TV gives users access to 6,500 apps and more than 400,000 films and TV shows

Android TV vs. Google TV: Full Comparison

The similarities between Android TV and Google TV are plentiful. That’s because they’re more or less similar technology. Both are smart TV operating systems developed by Google. They both run on Android. Not to mention, both can be found on TV, media players, and TV boxes alike. Beyond these overwhelming similarities, there are some key differences worth outlining.

For one, the original Google TV did not offer nearly as much integration as Android TV. The original iteration of Google TV could only be found on televisions, Blu-ray players, and Dish boxes. Android TV, on the other hand, is built into televisions, Blu-ray and 4K players, USB dongles, TV boxes, sounders, and more.

Another key difference is in the kind of OS family the two products belong to. Google TV relied on Android’s OS, while Android TV leans more on a Unix-like OS with Android incorporated. This results in a pretty significant difference in the way the OS works. The latter is far smoother than the former (which can also be chalked up to a difference in technological time periods, as Android TV is newer than Google TV and therefore more advanced).

Differences Between Android TV and the New Google TV

Confusingly enough, Android TV plans to rebrand as Google TV in the near future. (Yes, the same name that the Android TV was created to replace back in 2014). This rebranding will bring with it a set of key differences between Android TV and the new-and-improved Google TV. For starters, the interfaces between Android TV and the new Google TV will look pretty different. The new Google TV is a lot sleeker and smoother to navigate, mimicking the kind of user experience seen on the current slate of Android phones, tablets, and computers.

Beyond this difference in appearance, the new Google TV will do away with Android TV’s Google Play Movies & TV app. The difference between the two is less of a physical one and more of an aesthetic one. The same could be said for this transition from Android TV to the new Google TV, as well. The heart of the technology is the same, but the look and the feel are distinctly different.

Android TV vs. Google TV: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Android TVGoogle TV
TechnologyOperating systemOperating system
Initial ReleaseJune 25th, 2014October 6th, 2010, revived in 2020
DiscontinuedStill activeJune 2014 (First iteration)
OS FamilyUnix-likeAndroid
Latest ReleaseAndroid 13Android 3 (first iteration), Android 13 (latest iteration)
Available ProductsTVs, media players, TV boxes, soundbarsTVs, media players, TV boxes
Man watching smart tv television in living room
The primary differences between Android TV and Google TV are their aesthetics and names!

Android TV vs. Google TV: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • While Android TV and Google TV might seem like rivals, they’re actually cut from the same cloth: Android TV succeeded Google TV in 2014.
  • Google TV was limited to televisions, Blu-ray players, and Dish boxes. Android TV, on the other hand, has been expanded to USB plug-ins, sound bars, and more.
  • Smart TVs were not nearly as common upon Google TV’s release in 2010. Smart TVs would not become the default until at least 2015.
  • The Google TV brand name is slated to replace the Android TV name by the end of 2022.
  • Currently, Google TV gives users access to 6,500 apps and more than 400,000 films and TV shows.

Google TV: A Complete History

First launched in 2010, Google TV represented a combined effort by IntelSony, and Logitech to enter the smart TV wars and triumph over all competition.

Google TV aimed to deliver all the convenience of a smart TV with the distinct power of Google at the heart of it all. It ran on Android 3.0/3.2 software with a Google Chrome browser built right in.

Google TV implemented storied x86 architecture into its first-generation processors and ARM architecture in its second. It soon expanded its partnership with Intel, Sony, and Logitech to include LG, Samsung, Vizio, and Hisense, as well. This flashy new Google TV software didn’t just stick to televisions, either. Blu-ray players and even Dish Network devices integrated Google TV into their interface, too.

The smart TV did a great job integrating existing Google features into this new, state-of-the-art technology. This seamless integration could be seen best in the smart TV’s suite of features. Beyond the aforementioned Chrome browser built right in, Google TV also brought Google Play and other company apps to the television. Android and Apple phones were also able to be used as remotes to control the TV. Many Google TVs even came with wireless remotes that included a full QWERTY keypad on the front to make browsing easier.

Despite all of the good that Google TV had going for it, critics were not so impressed with these early iterations of Google’s smart TV. The consensus was this: Google TV had potential, but in its current form—that first generation in the fall of 2010, to be exact—it just wasn’t fully there yet. So, Google went back to the drawing board. Enter: Android TV.

watching 3D TV

The Google TV brand name is slated to replace the Android TV name by the end of 2022.

The Origins of Android TV

First debuted in the summer of 2014, Android TV served as a hard reset for the smart TV operating system, formerly known as Google TV. It’s a pretty ingenious tactic when you think about it. When a name has too much negative history attached to it, just change it.

While Google TV wasn’t necessarily scorned, it wasn’t up to the brand’s impeccable standards. As such, it made sense for them to shed the Google name and slap the Android name on instead. Thus, Android TV was born.

Android TV saw immediate success. It seems Google’s trick worked like a charm. Critics met this new smart TV (that was really just a repackaged old smart TV) with much higher praise. Smarter, better, faster, and stronger, the Android TV kept all the aforementioned Google apps while incorporating even more than before. Android TV boasts Chromecast functionality, access to the Google Play Store, compatibility with Android Wear and Android phones, and even built-in Google Assistant.

Eight years since the retirement of Google TV as a smart TV brand, Google TV has actually seen a re-emergence as a brand name. This go-around, Google TV refers to the software formerly known as Google Play Movies & TV. Think of it like Google’s answer to the Apple TV app, integrating video-on-demand with recommendations from dozens of the top television networks built right in.

The Return of Google TV

This is where things get a little confusing. You see, Google TV is no longer dead. In fact, the current plan is to drop the Android TV name and return to the Google TV name under this new designation.

It seems Google believes enough time has passed since the early struggles of Google TV to bring the name back under a new connotation. The switch is scheduled to occur across smart TVs, USB dongles, and TV boxes by the end of 2022.

This new-and-improved Google TV repackages the Android TV software under a new name and new features. Just like when Google TV became Android TV, it’s less an outright replacement and more of a rebranding. At its core, it’s still the same Android technology combined with Google’s suite of products and features.

The return to the Google TV name will bring with it a new interface, live TV functionality, continued support for mobile phones as remotes, and better integration of Google accounts. Beyond these basics, the new-and-improved Google TV will work to seamlessly integrate user experience from Google device to Google device. This means a user’s watchlist on their phone could be accessible from the television, and vice versa.

The Google TV revival will also deliver smart home integration and continued smart assistant support. Home security, smart speakers, thermostats… whatever kind of smart Android tech you have in your home, Google TV 2.0 should be expected to communicate with it.

As this switchover takes place in the coming months, you can expect to see even more features announced.

Android TV vs. Google TV: Which Smart TV is the Best?

If you’re a little confused about Android TV and Google TV and which version is superior, you’re not alone.

Hopping from Google TV to Android TV and back again is a decidedly strange move on Google’s part, but it makes sense when thinking about the function of a rebranding. Rebranding allows tech companies to do a hard reset among consumers, repackaging familiar technology under the guise of something new and exciting.

When all is said and done, the similarities between these two smart TVs far outweigh the differences. That’s because they’re more or less the same, just repackaged under different names. (It could honestly be said that the names are honestly the most distinct things about these different smart TVs).

With this in mind, the best smart TV is the newest smart TV—in this case, the rebranded Google TV, currently being rolled out as we write this. Of course, given the closeness in spirit between Android TV and Google TV, you really can’t go wrong either way.


Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between Android TV and Google TV?

Android TV and Google TV are two brand names that represent the same basic product: Google’s smart TV. For this reason, the biggest difference between the two is their aesthetics (and their names).

Which came first, Android TV or Google TV?

Google TV came first back in 2010. Android TV was introduced in 2014. Today, Google TV plans to make a full comeback across the entire suite of Android TV products by the end of 2022.

Is Android TV better than Apple TV?

Despite what their names would suggest, Android TV and Apple TV actually serve somewhat different purposes. For that reason, it’s hard to say which is better. Apple TV is not built into any televisions or smart home devices like Android TV is, while Android TV is not as limited to set-top boxes as Apple TV is.

What is the latest Android TV OS?

Android 13 is currently out in beta form for Android and Google TVs.

Which is better, Android TV or Google TV?

The latest Google TV update triumphs over Android TV, but the Android TV is far superior to the former Google TV discontinued in 2014.

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