April 7, 2014
According to documents obtained by The Verge, Google is getting ready to launch Android TV, which is expected to be very different than the failed Google TV. Rather than turning your television into a bigger version of your smartphone, Android TV will be a new entertainment interface similar to set-top boxes such as Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Major video app providers are reportedly already building for the platform, which is expected to support voice input, notifications and optional game controllers.
“Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform,” writes Google. “It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction” and plans to be “cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast.”
“While Android still lives under the hood, the interface will consist of a set of scrolling ‘cards’ that represent movies, shows, apps, and games sitting on a shelf,” explains The Verge. “You use a remote control with a four-way directional pad to scroll left and right through different suggestions, or up and down through different categories of content, each with their own shelves. Much like on other set-top boxes, each item will be like a miniature movie poster or book cover.”
Google plans to change the navigation experience by recommending content to individuals as soon as the TV is turned on. Android TV will also include the ability to resume content a viewer started watching on a phone or tablet.
“Access to content should be simple and magical,” explains one Google document.
“Even search appears to be secondary to intuitively understanding what you want and delivering it as soon as possible, though search will still be one of Android TV’s primary tools,” notes the article. “In addition to universal search, pressing the Search button on the controller will let you search from within individual apps as well.”
Screenshots in the documentation indicate apps for Play Movies, YouTube, Hangouts, Vevo, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and games.
“Google is stripping away unneeded features like telephony, cameras, touchscreen support and near-field communication to keep developers focused, and handing them ready-made interfaces where they can hopefully just plug in shows, games, photos, music, and films,” explains The Verge.
Until more details are revealed, questions remain how Android TV will compare to products on the market with similar features, including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — as well as Google’s own $35 Chromecast HDMI dongle.