The new Google TV UI is built with one purpose – to make content more personal and discoverable on Android TV devices. For a few years now, the Android TV interface has offered a boring yet consistent interface composed of content divided into rows. You can always customize this home-screen UI, but never personalize it for content recommendations.
Over the past few years with streaming services like Netflix flashing its personalization algorithms, Android TV’s interface was starting to look outdated. The increasingly fragmented state of streaming does not help matters either. With so many services to choose from, it is often difficult to find shows or movies without searching through many different apps.
Google TV – a Google-ified UX that sits on top of Android TV – with its new “For You” tab, which recommends movies and TV shows Google thinks you’ll like. With Google TV aptly named Chromecast, the company describes its new streaming experience as “with a little help from Google, you love entertainment.” But if they are only for one person, what are the features of personalization of Google TV?
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Everyone is not alone, Google
As mentioned in a recent Reddit thread, Google TV, in its current form, does not support user profiles. This means that only one person can get personalized content recommendations on Google TV, unlike services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, where you get the convenience of flicking to different user profiles. This would normally be an unfair comparison because Google TV is essentially an aggregator, not a standalone streaming service. However, the idea that Google has adopted for its new UI is very similar to what we would expect from a dedicated streaming platform, so it would be reasonable to expect some feature similarity.
So in this sense, baking personalization in the UI is great but Google forgot that more than one person can (and in most cases) watch content on Android TV devices.
Meanwhile, Google TV has added a confusing profile icon to the home screen. You would think that it is to add another person’s profile, but you would be wrong. When you access apps that require you to switch accounts, that profile icon lets you load another Google account. It does not affect the overall UX or change of recommendations you have received. So if you were hoping to set up a separate account for your children, or for anyone else except yourself, you cannot.
Google TV is personal, but only for one person.
Personalization on Google TV does not end with the “for you” tab, either. The platform allows you to add content from various services to a watchlist that you can access later. This watchlist coincides with Google search, so if you find a streaming title, you can tap a button and add it to your Google Video Watchlist. to regret! This feature is also unusable for many users.
On top of that, Google acknowledges that there is no way to directly switch accounts for YouTube or YouTube TV. This means that you cannot take advantage of things like a custom live guide for YouTube TV. To access another YouTube or YouTube TV account, you must manually sign out from the current user and sign in again with a different account within the apps. Imagine doing this several times a day.
Small features such as the ability to load custom screensavers from your Google photo album are also limited to a single user.
People are not happy
Many early users of the new Chromecast with Google TV are angry at Google for not adding a profile switching feature, and rightly so. The whole point of personalization is such that many users can enjoy its benefits.
“Now all the recommendations in my account will be influenced by my wife when she discovers something. There is no way to watch her shows on YouTube shows her DVR, ”writes a disgruntled user on Chromecast support forums.
A Redditor suggests that what Google should “do” is that every time you turn on the TV, you should be prompted to choose a profile. When you use your computer. “
Google’s approach has historically been poor with profile switching on Android TV.
Another user explains, “Google TV is built on Android TV. Unfortunately, I doubt this is going to happen. It has been six years and they have not added any features that are standard for all competitors. ”
The final comment is interesting because it is true that Google’s entire approach with profile switching on Android TV has historically been poor. You can switch Google accounts on Android TV, but only to access any other email address on the Google Play Store, Play Games, and similar apps.
Why can’t Google just take the account switching feature from its mobile OS and apply it to Android TV? Flipping over it should not have taken much work and even if it did, something so fundamental to personal service could have been thought of before its launch.
Maybe Google will combine this with future updates, but for now, it is sad to see that Google TV does nothing to address this long-term problem. That said, Google is not the only streaming hardware manufacturer for this error.
Google is not alone
For all of Halbole about the absence of account switching on the new Google TV platform, it is worth noting that most of its competitors do not support the feature.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick also has a watchlist and a section for recommended content, but is bound to a single Amazon account. The only way to make personal recommendations on the Fire TV stick is to deregister the installed user’s account and add a new one. However, you can easily switch profiles within the Prime Video app, so at least Amazon’s own streaming service supports easy account switching on its hardware, unlike YouTube on Google TV.
Roku has the same issue and does not let users set multiple profiles on one device.
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Apple TV is the only streaming hardware that adopts a simple way to switch between user accounts. With TVOS 13, Apple introduced multi-user support to allow customers to access their settings, up next list, TV shows, movies, music and recommendations. This not only gives Apple TV users a personalized experience, but it gives them access to purchased content from another user’s profile.
Perhaps Google and others can borrow a leaf from Apple’s Playbook when it comes to multi-account personalization for streaming hardware. For now, don’t be fooled by all the marketing materials around customized recommendations on Google TV. If you share a TV with friends and family, this is not the ultimate solution for streaming fragmentation.
Worse is that Google has the newest way to create algorithms that drive Google TV’s new personalization smartphones for individual users. Haven’t done it yet. Until then, Google TV is personal, but only for one person.