Google plans to extend Android’s reach beyond smartphones and tablets. Android-powered video game consoles and smartwatches will compete with other technology companies, specifically Apple, which is expected to release its own game console and wristwatch according to people familiar with the development. Android is being made ready to run on a variety of CE products, from laptop computers and wearable devices to household appliances.
Games on Android are growing in popularity, more than games on consoles by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. (We recently reported that Ouya and Nvidia are releasing Android-based gaming devices.)
Manufacturers were initially limited to only using Android on smartphones and tablets, but Google is now opening compatibility to other devices. PC manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard, are working on using the next version of Android on laptops. Samsung is currently working on a smartphone-like Android watch, while others are planning Android-based appliances such as refrigerators.
According to Google, the majority of Android devices are running a version from 2011, and some have criticized that newer versions can only run on high end, more powerful devices. Google is expected to release an updated Android version this fall that can run on lower end smartphones common in developing countries.
Google is looking to develop devices separately from its Motorola hardware company. It is planning a second version of the Nexus Q, an Android media-streaming device released last year, that was ultimately pulled due to complaints of its $299 price tag.
Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of Nvidia, believes that in the future, there will be three billion people using Android devices, and that it will disrupt the videogame and consumer electronics industry. “If you’re a child living outside of California, your first device is likely to be Android,” he said in a recent interview reported by The Wall Street Journal.