31
May
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Let's face it: at this point, Google TV is a certified flop. For all its good points, its adoption was hampered by expensive hardware, limited apps, and a clunky interface. Google is hoping to revive their set-top plans with "Android TV," an as-yet unverified platform revealed by The Verge last month. Others found more details of Android code powering a Google set-top box in the Android 4.4.3 changelog. Now anonymous sources tell GigaOM that the device will get a formal introduction, if not a full rollout, at Google I/O in June.

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According to the report, which comes with no verifiable information of its own, Google will introduce Android TV as its next-generation television platform. As with Google TV, the company will partner with conventional hardware manufacturers instead of building and selling devices on its own. The April leak pointed to a heavy integration with Google's existing movies, television shows, music, and other media on the Play Store, but Android TV will also include an app engine, with apps like YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix making obvious additions.

On that description alone Android TV doesn't sound much different from Google TV. The real difference is in the "Pano" card-based interface, which will allow quick tunneling down into content. As a possible example (and a complete speculation on my part): the Netflix app for Android TV could put a link for the next episode in your latest binge right on the "homescreen" of the television. Hints of Pano were spotted in one of our recent Hangouts teardowns - a Hangouts app is featured in the April leak. Other rumored features include robust gaming features and integration with Chromecast, which would allow users to "cast" directly to an Android TV-equipped television or set-top box.

GigaOM's report includes quite a lot of "inside baseball" information on conflict between the Android and Google TV (later Chrome) teams, but at the end of the day, it's easy to see why the company would want a TV platform with more power and flexibility than the inexpensive Chromecast. Android TV could be sold relatively cheaply on its own, or integrated into a stand-alone television with the addition of some inexpensive ARM hardware. And considering how Google TV has been largely forgotten and eclipsed by competitors new and old, a clean slate is probably very attractive to Google at the moment.

Source: GigaOM

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Fabian Pineda

    I thought I/O would be in the right timeframe for introducing it, as Google is late to the game at this point, but the lectures calendar at I/O didn't provide a solid hint, which is a must if you're going to push this hard. Unless it's going to appear in the Google Play and Games related sessions.

    Either way, crossing fingers for it!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      I'm hopeful and skeptical about an I/O release. I really do want it to come out at I/O, and there are reasons to believe that it could, but there are also bits of evidence that suggest it might be held until the Fall.

      Regarding the lack of I/O sessions - the only thing we can interpret from that list with certainty is if something will definitely be covered. Since Google and Apple are both known for adding and modifying sessions after the keynote is given, it's not impossible a new session to appear at the last minute.

      • Fabian Pineda

        I'm not entirely familiar with sessions modifications or additions, since I haven't followed the I/O schedule until this year, but adding a session or sessions after the keynote makes sense if you want to try and keep it under wraps.

        What benefit would bring to the table if it's held till fall, aside more time to work on it, rather than to enter competition, which is fierce at this point.

        Wouldn't the launch lose momentum?

        • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

          Maybe they can announce the platform at I/O and then hold an Android TV specific event to tell everything about it, plans, launch date and such, and couple it with a few other announcements, like they did last year in late July when they presented the Nexus 7 2013

          • Fabian Pineda

            Could be, yeah.

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        So what you're saying is that Google may be preparing for probably the biggest autumn product launch pipeline they had (Android TV, new Android version, Nexus 6, Nexus 8, Nexus 10 v2)

  • usaff22

    I don't really use my TV anymore, maybe this will let it rise from the dead.

    • Michael

      Can I ask why you don't use it anymore? You never watch movies or tv shows?

      • usaff22

        I do watch movies and TV shows, but there's a few reasons.

        Everything is online, much quicker to fire up YouTube in Chrome than turning on the TV and using a set-top box connected to the internet (just for one or two videos), many of my favorite shows are American made, so they air in the UK a few weeks later, on paid TV which I won't subscribe to. Won't use Netflix, since I don't have too many TV shows that I like. I like browsing the web much more than watching whatever airs on TV nowadays.

      • ScratchC

        If that surprised you how about me? I don't ever watch any TV shows (like barely any of the new ones) I game on a computer monitor (Video Games look better and i use a headset to play) the only time I'll sit down and watch tv is when me and my GF sit down and watch a movie... Which we stream off her tablet

        • Fábio André Antunes

          Which method/app are you using to stream to your TV?

      • Chris

        I don't watch movies or tv shows. When I'm at home, and have down time, I'm on the computer. I like watching youtube videos. No commercials.

  • Grahaman27

    $99 + Tegra k1 + chromecast support + voice commands + amazon prime support = win.

    • simo

      dream....

    • Sean Lumly

      Yes! I hope that they couple the unit with a VERY powerful GPU. It may not matter to most, but it will open a big door for gamers, and may grow to be a significantly used gaming platform.

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        Why would you need powerful hardware unless there is no native controller support for all games? Remember, it is a TV platform, you are supposed to interact it either via voice or a remote control, and I doubt Google will try and venture ahead with AirPlay alternative (and Chromecast is not one)

        Plus without native support you'd need to get root on this thing (which is unlikely) and connect a pad via Bluetooth or even USB. And besides it would only work for action or RPG or racing games, which means you can kiss 90% of Play's game library goodbye

        • Sean Lumly

          The difference in price for a good chip vs an entry level mobile chip is quite small, and it could allow users to play games of a high quality on their TVs. Yes, it may not catch on, but Google could easily test the market with such a product, and determine a future course based on the response.

          If it works, a Google game console wouldn't seem so far fetched.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Yeah, we've already seen how much of a success Ouya and such were

          • Sean Lumly

            Are you serious? What does OUYA have to do with a potential Google console? It's like saying: Oculus won't work, because we've already seen now much of a success Virtual Boy and such were.

            There are a lot of factors that dictate a products success. It can't be pinned down to a single characteristic.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Comparing OUYA and Google console makes more sense because they are based on the same platform, meaning that have the same content library (specifically games). Google console has equal chance of either becoming a commercial success and a hit product or going into a dustbin and becoming a second Nexus Q, which Google went as far as giving it out for free, because it was that crappy.

            Serious gamers either go along with a tablet + gamepad + emulator/games with native support like GTA or dead trigger, because a tablet is much more portable (heck, you may be carrying in your bag every day day) than a console which is supposed to be connected to a TV, or just go with bigger consoles (PlayStation, Xbox, wiiu) because they are already the center of average person's loving room because they provide better games, already are hooked up to your TV, and have a well established user base, which means alive and well multiplayer, and One and PS4 already have services like WWE Network, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, and Redbox, so you can go straight to enjoying HD video content

            That's why I'm rather skeptical about Google's own android console, and Android TV will obviously have an entirely different purpose (enjoy Play Movies and Play Music + YouTube, even no Chromecast needed since it is android based already, unlike other Smart TVs by Sony, lg, samsung, etc.)

            That said, your comparison of virtual boy and oculus rift is completely senseless because:
            1) there is an almost 20 year gap between the two
            2) since 90's the world has seen a big technological leap, meaning that ocukus can do much more than virtual boy
            3) oculus rift only needs a built in support by a game devrloper, unlike virtual boy that was a game console on its own and had own game library (if you can call it a library of, like, 10 games)
            4) oculus rift can be applied to much more than games, and in a long term perspective - it is a device that can finally bring us the true virtual reality and can revolutionize the industry

            /rant over

          • Sean Lumly

            "because they are based on the same platform, meaning that have the same content library (specifically games). Google console has equal chance of either becoming a commercial success and a hit product or going into a dustbin"

            Riiiight.. Being based on the same platform, with the same apps, gives devices an equal chance of success? By that logic, all Android smart phones should be selling roughly the same number of units. Quick, somebody tell that to Archos..

            We're done here.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            You are comparing different devices. Again.

            The consoles have similar purpose and roughly same target audience (mainly mobile games, in case if OUYA vs moga or "Google console)

            The smartphones are divided into different price categories and have clear distinction of what audiences they are targeted at - flagships for people ready to spend 700$ on a phone, midranges that are on the verge between going into a flagship or budget class, and budget phones like Moto E that are targeted at people who want to get a more or less nice smartphone for reasonable amount of money

            Please read carefully

            Or are you trying to say that two 700$ flagships don't have an equal chance of becoming the #1 product compared to the other?

          • Casin

            Are you saying LG or HTC's flagship have an equal chance of being #1 instead of the Galaxy S5? You must be dreaming

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Why not? If HTC and LG put as much effort into spreading and promoting their flagships as Samsung does with every Galaxy S release - there is a possibility of them topping Sammy

    • senor_heisenberg

      It won't have Amazon Prime.

  • Saidapet

    So disappointed, Google should definitely sell their own branded Android TV on the Play Store...

    • Justin W

      NexusTV.

      • http://www.westagemusic.com/ Marc

        Android Silver TV

    • xanok

      They can do that and have other hardware supporters.

    • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

      http://www.lg.com/us/tvs/lg-55GA7900-led-tv

      This was the TV Google was pushing at last I/O and I love it! I hope it gets this update and LG allows for Google's Launcher and not just their shitty one. Right now I'm currently using Nova Launcher on it.

  • laxjosh

    I hope this isn't just a rehash of what we see from everyone else out there, including Google TV. The same product wrapped in new clothes is still the same product.

    The only downside, imo, of Chromecast is that the user can not search across multiple providers (HBO Go, Hulu, Netflix, etc). But, the upside is that we, as users, get to use the (typically) incredibly straight forward user interfaces of the providers's native applications. It really was and is a brilliant product with a brilliant strategy.

  • Sean Lumly

    With this, Google can do some really cool things that will really resonate with the public and differentiate them from the competition (outside of having more apps and a different look).

    For example, they can introduce accurate hand gestures from a standard 2D camera as a central feature (example below). Coupled with voice, this would be extremely powerful. In this way, the physical remote control would be fully unnecessary as an input device.

    Eyesight tracking demonstration example:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUyiju8hcAo

    • TheFirstUniverseKing

      Aren't you basically describing a watered down version of Xbox One + Kinect?

      • Sean Lumly

        Yes! But for non-gamers (ie. most of the market).

        • TheFirstUniverseKing

          It could be interesting. I think Google could pull it off at a relatively low price.

          • Sean Lumly

            Me too. And they could also get the interface right (eg. hand-gestures/voice-commands that work consistently and are not annoying to do)..

          • Simon Belmont

            That's cute. Look at those two wrassling in the mud.

            Kids will be kids. Haha.

        • Fabian Pineda

          That's cute, calling a PS3/Xbox folk a "gamer"

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            That's cute, implying that PC race are the real gamers

          • Fabian Pineda

            That's cute, getting butthurt for pointing out casuals.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            That's cute, calling everyone who doesn't agree with you being butthurt over a platform preference

          • Fabian Pineda

            That's cute, misrepresenting oneself as "everyone" and getting even more butthurt for being obviously wrong.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            That's cute, stating that something that is a completely subjective opinion is obviously wrong

          • Fabian Pineda

            That's cute choosing to ignore the objective concepts of casual and hardcore gaming.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            That's cute, thinking of yourself as the one and only entity that can decide which gamers are casual and which are hardcore, and again implying that you can speak for everyone and call things with your SUBJECTIVE opinion being objective

          • Fabian Pineda

            That's cute, making up comments I never said in order to not embarrass yourself.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Oh, sorry, I didn't know you had a sclerosis and can't remember what you posted half an hour ago :(

          • Fabian Pineda

            That's cute, mocking diceases one may or may not have.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            You know now I'm wondering for how much longer can this argument possibly go?

          • Fabian Pineda

            That's cute, I was thinking that too.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Huh, weird. Guess we just had a "Pinky and Brain" moment right there

  • Akshay

    What does this mean for Chromecast?

    • senor_heisenberg

      Not much. If people want a cheap, easy way to watch stuff on their TV, they'll get a Chromecast. If they want something that offers a lot more, they'll get an Android TV. If you look at it that way, there's plenty of room for both.

      • Simon Belmont

        Still hoping they let me cast my local content to my Chromecast. I just want to be able to cast photos and videos from my phone or tablet.

        Seems like a no-brainer feature. The Chromecast should easily be able to handle it.

        • senor_heisenberg

          Yeah, I hope they update apps for viewing local files too. Third party apps like AllCast already prove that it's possible.

        • Kevin

          Just in case you might not know, you can already do that with the local cast app on Android.

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      That it gets an alternative that can do much more than a steaming content dongle, let alone that their price difference will most likely be rather huge, and I doubt that Google will be able to sell TVs for less than 400$ without losing money on each unit produced

  • Jeffrey Linton

    I wonder if Hulu+ support will be included, It was and still is blocked for GoogleTV. I also wonder if we would be able to root the GoogleTV to flash the AndroidTV kernel. I know that it may not have all the capabilities but the software could be better than what GoogleTV has now.

    • primalxconvoy

      HULU works fine on my ouya.

  • http://about.me/jovanphilip Van

    I submitted a tip to AP months ago with a video link exposing AndroidTV and it's beta interface by an actual hardware partner BEFORE the Verge even knew it existed. I realize you can't comb through every tip but seriously, it's still there.

    • pervbear

      Oh?

    • Simon Belmont

      Yeah. I actually saw this video back in April when Android TV was being talked about here at AP, and someone posted this video in the comments.

      It's an interesting watch. The guy behind the camera sure is persistent, but that's good for informational purposes.

      • http://about.me/jovanphilip Van

        Yeah. That someone was me. I'll admit I'm a bit miffed that they overlooked this pretty revealing tip.

        • Simon Belmont

          Yeah. It was you. :D

          Thanks for the link back then because I really enjoyed the video. Ironically, I cast it to my TV using my Chromecast. :)

    • Grahaman27

      I don't see how that was accurate at all.

    • Agfa

      Except that isn't a "beta" interface for Android TV. That's Hisense's current skin on their 4.2 offering. You can buy it today on their Pulse Pro.

      It's not the same as the Android TV screenshots.

      • matt

        Where can you buy a pulse pro? It has not been released yet.

      • http://about.me/jovanphilip Van

        Except the head of Marvell's development team confirmed it in the video? Except it's a Marvell booth with Marvell products and a Marvell dev? Tell me what does this have to do with Hisense in any way or form.

    • Luxferro

      Well a number of things:
      1) That isn't a beta UI - It's part of Hisense's launched products already.
      2) Those are android 4.2 devices (jellybean) - Google TV.
      3) Android TV is 4.3+

  • AbbyZFresh

    It's too late Google. Everyone has already chosen Apple TV or Roku.

    • Fabian Pineda

      It's late. Not sure if too late, but you're leaving out FireTV, which blows both Roku and Apple's box out of the water.

      If Amazon introduced an incredible product this late to the game, surely Google can.

      • AbbyZFresh

        People knew Amazon was gonna come out with something like this sooner or later. Google just came out of nowhere with this despite already having Google TV.

        • Fabian Pineda

          Everybody knows it's a lucrative business for digital media outlets. Knowing does not necessarily mean good or bad timing.

    • Stylus_XL

      Bullshit, this market is still wide open. The number of devices like this sold is still hugely dwarfed by the number of people who own televisions. Clearly there's way more room for growth here.

    • matt

      Google TV is already better than Roku and Apple TV. Android TV will be a heck of a lot better for sure!

    • atlouiedog

      I disagree. People get locked into the Apple ecosystem with iTunes to some extent, but if you're not buying content there or own a Roku it's pretty easy to jump ship when the time to upgrade comes. Many people I know who already had one box went out and bought a Chromecast for a second TV, because it was better than their 3-year-old Smart TV's apps, or just because it was cheap. They seem to be attracted to its ease of use and a more featured device could replace their main one.

      The real question will be if it supports Amazon Video. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO Go support covers the vast majority of the set top box use of the people I know. They don't really care if it's via Roku, Apple TV, PS3, etc.

  • noyoudont

    just get gaming right. been dissatisfied with moga and ouya so far.

    • Sergio

      Why don't you like moga? Just curious...

      • noyoudont

        For one can't cast it to my tv. There were a few workarounds but it was tedious. Then they have their own online store with not a lot of titles to offer. The android app was buggy (this was a yr ago) and kept disconnecting. And you have to customize the controls for each game. I kept thinking at the time if only Google would standardize the controls and get it to work with my tv it would be great.

    • primalxconvoy

      Moga doesn't work on ouya. My Moga is OK on my phone but the analogue sticks are a bit imprecise, compared to my ps3 pad. I wish moga would make their pads compatible with most other consoles, too.

  • http://www.bloodflame.com/ Patrick

    Great! Now give me root for my Fire TV so I can flash this instead

  • http://www.scienceprousa.com/ dcarr622

    Would be nice to see existing Google TV devices get updated to this...seeing as they all got 4.2 (I think?) running 4.4 isn't an impossibility.

    More likely they will just leave them as-is and eventually cripple them like the Nexus Q.

    • Google_Is_The_Higgs_Boson

      Not all... My first gen Sony Blu ray is still running honeycomb... And won't be getting JB... It has a Intel CPU, with the new ones having AMD CPU's... I don't even know if the new ones got the JB update... I was talking to someone yesterday that has the co star... He said his was still running honeycomb... Google treated GoogleTV like a red headed step child...

  • Kaivalya shah

    Success formula for Android TV (according to me):
    1) Has ALL the features of Chromecast.
    2) If it really has the interface leaked in the screenshots, I'm sold.
    3) Google should release it in at least 10 countries and not only US/UK/Australia.
    4) Price should be under 150$.
    5) No restrictions to rooting/modding.
    6) Game Controller support.

    • Björn Lundén

      A good way to get it to spread quickly could be to get all those manufacturers of Android-based media-boxes interested in the OS. They already produce quite capable little boxes based on chinese SoCs. The latest ones around the $100 mark will gladly output and play 4K video.

  • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

    Hopefully LG also sends out an update to this version. If not I will just wait for the APK to be ripped so I may sideload it on my TV. =D

  • MJ

    Why does Google want to build Android TV in the "TV"? I bought my last TV because it was "dumb". The smart part is my Cromecast/tablet or my PC. Google already has millions of phones/tablets/Cromecasts out their that can interface with TVs and be their "Android TV". Waiting for people to buy "Google TVs" will take forever to build a platform.

    I would never buy a TV because of it's proprietary "smart" platform and be locked in myself...

    • Google_Is_The_Higgs_Boson

      I believe these will be set top boxes... ChromeCast is good, but AndroidTV will be more powerful, and feature rich... But you do bring up a good point with getting these things in to people's hands... I'm just hoping they learned from their experience with GoogleTV...

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