Google had a lot of news to share at its I/O developer’s conference today, but one of the coolest things we saw was Android TV, a new platform for watching live television and interacting with apps and other Google Play content on the biggest screen in your house. You won’t be able to try out Android TV until later this year, but on the plus side that means there’s plenty of time to pore over all the cool new features it has to offer.
Of course, there are tons of smart TV options out there today. Roku, Apple, Amazon and even Google already sell small devices to make your HDTV smarter, and company’s including Samsung and LG sell SmartTVs with their own software pre-installed. Android TV definitely has a lot of competition, but it also has some killer features that should help distinguish it from the pack.
Here’s our top five features based on today’s presentation.
1. Built-In Voice Search
Google’s voice recognition technology never fails to impress. Combine that with the company’s industry leading search engine, and build it into a television set and you get something special. That’s what Google is offering with Android TV. Ask for a specific movie or show and Google will pull it up immediately. You can even ask for something like “movies with Jennifer Lawrence” and a see a list of options pop-up instantly. It’s true that Amazon introduced a similar feature earlier this year with Fire TV, but we have a feeling Google’s version will perform even better.
2. Control It From Your Phone
Android is being used to control everything from your car to your watch, but Google knows the one device you have on hand at almost all times is your smartphone. That’s why Android TV will come with a mobile app that lets you control everything without ever needing to reach for a remote. If you prefer a physical remote though don’t worry, Google says that’s coming too.
3. Mobile Games
Mobile games are about to get a lot better with Android L, and Google’s betting that before too long you’ll want to experience these apps on a big screen. That’s why Android TV supports Google Play games. You can even play a multiplayer game on your TV while a friend sits nearby and uses a phone or tablet to play the same game. You’ll also be able to game with a physical controller if you don’t feel like using your smartphone.
4. HD and 4K Android TVs Coming Soon
No matter how awesome Android TV may be you’ll only get the best experience if you’re experiencing the new platform on a high-resolution display. Luckily, Google has you covered. The company announced today that it has partnered with Sony, Sharp, TP Vision, and Philips to make 4K and HD televisions with Android TV pre-installed. Sony’s new TVs won’t launch until later this year, and the others are coming next year, though hopefully by then the price for 4K will have dropped down a bit.
5. Your Friends Can Stream Too
Android TV also makes it easy to stream content even if you’re just visiting a friend’s house. Instead of making you log in, the new software will automatically register that there’s another phone in the room so you can play your new favorite song on some decent speakers. Just in case Android TV doesn’t recognize your phone, the TV will also show a PIN onscreen which you can type into your phone to quickly sync up.
There’s a lot more to be excited about with Android TV and we just had a chance to try it out ourselves, so stay tuned for our hands-on. The first set-top boxes from Asus and Razr won’t launch until later this year followed by physical TV sets next year, but hopefully Google will offer up even more information in the near future. Until then check out all our Android TV pictures from Google I/O below.