Not content with millions of Chromecast dongle sales, a new report suggests that Google is preparing to take on the Apple TV, Roku range and newly released Amazon Fire TV with a smart TV streaming platform of its own. The Verge has unearthed details of a new television offering called Android TV, which looks like Google's most pointed charge towards the living room since its doomed Google TV platform.
Described by Google as an "entertainment interface, not a computing platform" in the materials accompanying the screengrabs acquired by The Verge, Android TV is said to be "all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction." It will be "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast [...] optimised for the living room consumption experience on a TV screen."
In the leaked screenshots, it looks much like the Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV interfaces, horizontal rows of cards will be navigable, offering up apps, movies, TV streaming services and games. Navigation, it's claimed, will be carried out with a remote control that includes a four-way directional pad, Enter, Home and Back buttons. Voice input will also be accepted, while apps will also be able to send users notifications — a feature Google wants to be used sparingly for the sake of simplicity across the platform.
Though the documents suggest search will be available, Google is apparently hoping to have that play a secondary role to its own predictive recommendation systems. Third party apps such as Netflix and games content is shown to sit side by side with Google's own first party video apps and YouTube, while the search giant's communication apps, such as Hangouts, are also present.
If all this is real, what's interesting is where this new platform will leave the massively-popular Chromecast dongle, and how the two will integrate, if at all. From a developer's point of view, the appeal of Chromecast had been that a secondary app need not be developed, but Android TV seems to suggest that manpower will have to be committed to the creation or porting of apps for a new platform.
At present, Google has yet to publicly announce Android TV, so take all this with one big old pinch of salt for now. But if The Verge's report is accurate, it seems Google is quite a long way into development. It will be exciting to see how this plays out. [The Verge]
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