There was a time—a golden age, one might say—when streaming meant it was easier than ever to find content and keep track of what you wanted to watch and where and when you could watch it. Those days have long since passed, mainly because everyone who owns any content whatsoever now has their own streaming platform.
Sure, services like Plex exist to consolidate the streaming-service soup into one convenient interface, but why give a new company access to your valuable data when you could just leave it in the hands of Google? They already have all your information.
What is Google TV?
Google TV is the big G’s latest iteration of Google Play Movies & TV. Google TV hopes to make your streaming experience more convenient by consolidating half a dozen subscriptions into one app and providing suggestions for you to watch based on what you have already watched. With Google TV, you can browse movies and shows from the likes of AppleTV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock, Prime Video, Sling, YouTube TV, and other streaming and live service providers.
Google TV is built into Chromecast and Android TV devices, but you can also use it on any other Android device with the Google TV app on the Play Store. For this guide, we’ll focus mainly on the Android app, but the general idea is basically the same for the other devices mentioned.
How to use Google TV on an Android phone or tablet
While the best way to watch content with Google TV is from your couch, on a giant 4K TV, and with a big bowl of snacks, you can also download the Google TV Android app to watch content on the go with your Android or iOS phone or tablet. It may be a suboptimal experience, but it’s better than being stuck on a long train ride with no dopamine.
Let’s look at how to view and manage content using the Google TV Android app. Before you begin, find the Google TV app on the Play Store. Once you have the Google TV app installed, open the app and follow these steps:
- The first screen prompts you to link streaming services to your Google account. Select all the streaming services you want to add to Google TV and tap Done to proceed to the screen where you can view content. Depending on whether you’re signed in to the streaming service, you might need to sign in to add the service to your Google TV account.
- If you have never linked or added the selected service to your Google account, tapping Link redirects you to a page that asks for your login info.
- Enter your login credentials on the login page for the services you want to add and tap Log in to go to the link confirmation page.
- On the link confirmation page, tap Confirm to link the service to your Google account.
- After adding all the streaming services, tap Done to start viewing content.
Now that you’ve linked your streaming services to your Google TV app and account, you can browse and view content from those services on your Google TV homepage.
Google TV tips and tricks
Now that you have the Android app up and running, let’s look at some things you can do to make the most of the Google TV app, whether you’re watching in the comfort of your home or on the bus on the way to your office.
Google TV recommendations
The first thing you’ll see after you’ve set up the Google TV app is the Top picks for you section on top of the wall of content the app presents you with. Top picks for you is a section that recommends content that Google TV thinks is the best fit for you based on what you have watched on services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. These recommendations change as new content comes out and as you watch more content.
If the recommendations aren’t working out for you, you can adjust your recommendations in a few ways. The easiest way to adjust your recommendations is to add or remove services from Google TV in the app settings. However, this results in less content in your Google TV app, which might not be what you want.
Here’s how to reset the recommendations from the Google TV app:
- Tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner of the app.
- Tap My Activity to go to the My Google Activity page.
- Tap the three horizontal lines in the upper-left corner of the screen to open the sidebar.
- In the sidebar menu, tap Delete activity by to delete your online and app activity for a specified time range.
- Selecting Last day or Last hour in the next stage immediately deletes all the app and search history for your Google account for that time. Selecting Always or Custom range takes you to a page where you can delete the history on a per-app basis.
- If you selected Always or Custom range, the next page prompts you to choose the services you want to delete the history. Select the history you want to erase and tap Next to preview the information that will be deleted.
- Tap Delete to confirm the deletion.
Deleting your online app history resets your recommendations based on searches and other Google app interactions, but your watchlist recommendations will remain the same and affect your recommendations.
How to use the Google TV watchlist
Google TV automatically imports your watchlists from services like Netflix and Hulu, but you can also manually add shows and movies to the watchlist. You can add shows from within the Google TV app interface, but the integration with Google’s search and other features makes it far more convenient. An example is when your friend tells you about a show you should watch, you can search the show in Google and immediately add it to your watchlist instead of having to figure out where it is streaming, open that app, find the show, and then add it to the list individually.
The watchlist is also an extra data point Google TV can use to recommend content for you to watch, so you can use that to adjust your recommendations to some extent.
How to use the virtual Google TV remote
If you use your phone or tablet as a companion device to an Android TV or Google TV-compatible device, you might be interested in the remote control functionality. The feature is fairly simple to set up, and you can pin a remote shortcut to the quick settings in your notification shortcuts tray for quick access.
Need help setting up the Google TV remote on your phone? Take a look at our short setup guide on the topic.
Once your remote is set up, you can use it to perform just about any basic navigation and controls on your TV as well as use the keyboard on your phone to enter text on your TV, which is undoubtedly a better experience than the on-screen keyboard could ever be.
Cozy up for the movie
Whether you’re just getting started kitting out your home streaming setup, or you already have the best in home streaming gear, Google TV might be something for you to consider, especially for the close integrations with Google’s Assistant and search services, and for the perks of consolidating the incredible movies and shows we have access to these days.