Meet AndroidTV: a new TV platform, like the failed Google TV. It’s a brand new UI, but it’s the same SDK as regular Android.
Here’s what’s up: Android TV is a UI that gives you a unified view of your channels. It’s a “lean-back” approach to watching TV, says Google. Part of what that means is super simple voice search that works how you talk. For example, you can say “Breaking Bad” and get a full rundown of the shows. You could also say something like “Oscar-nominated films from 2002” and get a list there, or you can say something like “who played Kevin in Home Alone” and get an answer for that. And it uses the power of Google search you already know and love. While it sounds like an answer to voice search on Fire TV it also seems like it might be better and more specific. Think the power of Google to help you binge watch horrible TV aggressively.
Horizontal bars of cards will recommend content, apps, games, etc. The UI is all animated, and it looks pretty fast, as you may expect from Google-powered search.
You have a remote, but you don’t have to use said remote. If you lose it, you can use your Android Wear watch instead. You’ll also have direct access to Google Play games, all from your TV.
Already familiar with Chromecast? Great. Android TV includes full Google Cast support, so you can use it in the same way you use your little dongle, sending content directly from your phone or tablet.
Google has also revealed that its popular Chromecast dongle will soon receive a sizable boost in the number of apps it can support. What’s more, the streaming device will also receive a personalised user home screen.
Chromecast has grown rapidly since its debut last year. Its content partners have grown from just five partners initially into a stable of several dozen. With all of these new sources, finding what you want can be challenging. However, Google has just announced that it’s working on an easier means of discovering shows and movies within its expanding content ecosystem.
What’s more, the current requirement that the device controlling your Chromecast must be on the same Wi-Fi network as the dongle is being dropped. Anybody within range can simply connect to the Chromecast without first having to log into the local network. You will, of course, have the final say in who can actually access your dongle.
Android TV will work for TVs, set-top boxes, streaming boxes and consoles. At the end of the year, it will arrive on new televisions from Sony and Sharp. You can also expect products from LG and Razr, which could be set-top boxes, but that remains to be seen.
Now, while this is different and seemingly better than Google TV, in that it’s integrated with other Android stuff, it’s sort of weird that Google is taking yet another stab at a TV platform. Especially considering that Google TV and the non-starter Nexus Q were big ‘ol failures. We’ll learn more when we actually see Android TV up close and personal.