Google TV, the search giant’s latest attempt at TV software, will include a new “Basic TV” mode that strips out a TV’s smart features in favor of providing simple access to live TV and HDMI inputs, 9to5Google reports. It’s a potential boon to anyone that ever wanted to dumb-down their smart TV because they prefer an external streamer or because they value privacy.
Google TV debuted on the new Chromecast, where it offered a new interface built on Google’s existing Android TV software, but will soon be offered as built-in software for TCL and Sony’s upcoming TVs.
According to 9to5Google, you can select the “Basic TV” mode at setup. Doing so strips out the operating system’s apps, content recommendations, and Google Assistant support. It’s possible to revert back to the standard interface at any time, but selecting the basic mode can only be done on setup. Unfortunately it’s unclear exactly what the interface will end up looking like, since the developer-focused ADT-3 dongle 9to5Google tested the mode on doesn’t have the required live TV or HDMI hardware. We also don’t know how basic mode will affect data collection.
A Google spokesperson confirmed to 9to5Google that the mode is a feature of Google TV specifically, rather than Android TV 12.
There are plenty of reasons that people might want to remove all the smarts from a smart TV. Many users rely on set-top boxes from Apple, Roku, or Amazon for their streaming content, and a duplicate interface built into their TV just gets in the way. Others might want to continue using a TV long after developers have stopped supporting its software and apps, at which point it’s helpful to be able to strip it down to its bare essentials to improve performance. Or maybe you just don’t like the idea of using a smart TV given their history of tracking you everything you watch.