Google TV for Android gets more Chromecast-style features

Google TV for Android is getting a new look, with improvements to the UI along with the recommendation system. The update – which is rolling out in the US this week – adds new 16:9 widescreen movie and show posters, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores.

There's also the ability to flag whether you've already seen something, so that it won't be included in future recommendations. With the update, there's a new option in the details page to mark something as "watched."

That will trigger new recommendations, and there'll now be more personalized recommendations visible with an addition of extra rows. Google says there have been tweaks on the back-end, too, to improve the recommendations engine.

Finally, there are more content streams being added. There's now movies and shows from Discovery+ and Viki, plus content from Cartoon Network, PBS Kids, and Boomerang. On-demand content from live TV providers – including YouTube TV, Philo, and fuboTV – is also being added. You'll find the new options in the "Manage Services" menu.

The Google TV Android app changes follow hot on the heels of Google's last Android TV update, earlier in July. Then, the company added new watchlist and recommendation features, in an attempt to cut down on paralysis-of-choice problems from overstocked streaming media shelves. A new Android 12 Beta shortly before that added a 4K version of the UI, along with refresh rate switching.

Meanwhile, existing Google TV for Android features like the Watchlist remain. The Library tab is where previously purchased movies and shows can be found.

If some of the changes seem familiar, it's probably because they help bring Google TV more in line with the Chromecast with Google TV experience. Launched late in 2020, the latest-generation of Chromecast debuted an overhauled Google TV that promised to cut through "what to watch?" confusion with a new recommendations engine. Google said at the time that the new features would be progressively spreading through existing Google TV devices, and it looks like it's about time for more of that to reach peoples' Android phones too.