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Changing The GTV User Agent To Extend The Usefulness Of GTV

Discussion in 'Google TV General Discussion' started by CatfishRivers, Apr 30, 2015.

  1. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    This has been mentioned before - but I haven't seen it discussed on this forum in a while - so I'm going to relate an experience that I had today with my Logitech Revue.

    Perhaps some of you have encountered web sites that state the GTV Chrome browser is no longer supported - instructing you to update to the current version of Chrome. Seeing that GTV devices (on the Honeycomb OS) are running a very outdated Chrome 11 browser - these messages from web sites that instruct visitors to update the GTV Chrome browser are occurring more frequently. Unfortunately as most of you probably know by now that there is no way to update the Chrome browser on GTV devices running Honeycomb OS.

    Today when I went to my bank's web site (with my Logitech Revue) I got a message that my browser was no longer supported - with instructions that I need to update my browser. In the past I was always able to use my Revue for online banking. So here's what I did as a workaround:

    I went to browser settings (the keyboard key with 4 horizontal lines) ----> Settings ----> Advanced Settings ------> Under The Hood ------> Scroll down to where it says "User Agent". Check the box for "Custom" user agent and then I entered the following user agent string:

    Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/41.0.2228.0 Safari/537.36

    ---> Now check the box that says "OK"

    I then went back to my bank's web site and was successfully able to access and transact my online banking.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2015
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  2. guest

    guest Active Member

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    How does that differ from the default and generic strings? I've entered it into my Revue. Hopefully, it'll improve the performance a bit, as well.
     
  3. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    Well on my bank's web site the default and generic settings no longer work. The default setting will identify you as a GTV user with Chrome 11. The generic setting won't identify you as a Google TV user but it will still identify you as using Chrome 11. So the way around that problem is to use the custom user agent and enter a modern user agent string. The user agent string from my previous post was for a version of Chrome 41.

    On a side note - on some web sites such as Hulu - using a custom user agent won't do any good because Hulu takes the extra step of blocking GTV by the unique Flash version that GTV uses. (It's only some of the content providers that block GTV in this manner - NOT web sites such as banks, stores, etc).

    Also changing to a custom user agent won't effect the functionality of the browser - it only effects the web site's blocking of the browser. For instance it's possible that some web sites (that tell visitors to update their browser) might utilize features that the GTV Chrome 11 browser isn't capable of supporting. If that's the case then using a custom user agent won't magically make the unsupported features work. However I suspect many web sites (such as banks) are telling users to update Chrome because the latest version of Chrome has improved security features. So for my bank it appears that my Chrome 11 browser still works fine as long as I "trick" the bank's web site into thinking that I'm using Chrome 41.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2015
  4. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it is good to bring this up again. I don't have any idea how to determine what user agent is best for which sites without relying on trial and error. As I mentioned in my Masters Golf Tournament thread here, streaming the Masters didn't work this year until I found a custom user agent. In prior years, default or generic had worked but this year I couldn't get either to work and I found this user agent:

    (Linux; Android 4.0.4; Galaxy Nexus Build/IMM76B) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.133 Mobile Safari/535.19

    That worked. I still think for most web site access, default is best, for some generic is best and for whatever reason, some take crazy user agent strings like the one I stumbled on. Of course there could be any number of strings that would have worked, the first one I tried worked.
     
  5. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    Well for sites that display a message that says the browser needs to be updated - the best approach is to try a 'recent' browser user agent string. Something like Chrome 41 should do the trick. Of course a somewhat older user agent string could still work - but the web sites display the "update your browser" message because they detect GTV users on Chrome 11.

    Back in the day when GTV was still supported - the advantage to using the default browser was that certain web sites had special GTV web apps that were triggered when a GTV user went to the site. There used to be quite a few of those GTV web apps in the GTV Spotlight section. But now most of those GTV web apps are defunct and some of the Spotlight sites just redirect GTV users to the regular web site. So IMO nowadays I can't really see any advantage of using the default user agent string. And I can't see any advantage of using the generic user agent string because that will identify the user as having an outdated Chrome 11 browser.

    Well on second thought - on some web sites such as the LA Times - when I view it with my GTV user agent on generic (or default) - I get a message that says my browser isn't fully supported - so to get all of the benefits of the full LA Times web site I should update my browser - but in the meantime they are sending me to a "scaled down" version of their web site that will function with my browser. So I suppose in instances (such as the LA Times) - that could be an advantage to using the generic user agent mode. But I think most web sites that want visitors to upgrade their browser will just tell users that their browser is no longer supported (and tell them they need to upgrade) - while a small minority of sites will send users to a scaled down version of their web site in case users can't/won't upgrade their browser.

    * I just tried the LA Times web site with the custom user agent from my first post in this thread. I didn't get the message instructing me to update my browser (that I always get in generic mode). The site seems to work well with my Revue even though apparently I'm not redirected to their so-called scaled down version. LA Times

    Also on many newspaper web sites they have mobile versions that tend to play nice with GTV. Just type an m. in front of the URL. Here is an example:

    The St. Louis Today newspaper full web site (kind of clunky with GTV): St. Louis Sports News Jobs Classifieds Entertainment Weather (stltoday.com)
    The mobile version of St. Louis Today (a scaled down version that plays nice with GTV): St. Louis Sports News Jobs Classifieds Entertainment Weather (m.stltoday,com)
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2015
  6. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    Well I found out that with the Chrome 41 user agent (from my first post on this thread) - that the (regular) YouTube web site won't work with my Logitech Revue. When I click to play a video the circle just continuously spins around but the video never starts. I assume this is because when YouTube recognizes my browser as Chrome 41 it tries to play the videos in the default HTML5 mode (which the Logitech Revue Chrome browser doesn't support). I switched back to generic user agent mode and the YouTube videos played fine. (This is because when YouTube recognizes the browser as Chrome 11 it serves up the videos in Flash mode).
     

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