Google is reportedly getting ready to once again tackle TV. According to documents acquired by The Verge, the search giant is “about to launch” a renewed experience, called Android TV, that focuses more so on the interface, rather than acting as a big smartphone on your TV. I.e. Google apparently learned from the mistakes it made with Google TV, and is looking to rectify the situation by introducing something that’s much more user friendly; “cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast,” are the words used to describe Google’s new initiative. It will “look and feel a lot more like the rest of the set top boxes on the market,” The Verge said.
Developers are apparently already building apps for Android TV, which Google has instructed to be “extremely simple;” the company has reportedly handed a select number of developers “ready-made interfaces” so that the UI and experience is very consistent. The Verge has provided a series of pictures of the interface, which features a card layout, showing viewers movies, shows, apps and games sitting on a shelf. The experience will be familiar to current set-top box owners, with beautiful images and relevant information provided throughout.
Google plans on all the navigation to be done on a single controller, which will have a directional pad, Enter, Home and Back buttons, and there will apparently be optional game controllers as well. Sounds like a big response to Amazon’s Fire TV. Voice controls will also be supported, and it sounds like it’ll work universally through third-party apps, unlike Amazon’s offering.
What makes it a google product is that Android TV will suggest those pieces of content on the home screen itself, The Verge explained. While you can dive through a collection of apps and games if you want, the goal isn’t to have a user select an app like Hulu and then browse through things to watch. Google wants to proactively recommend things to you—including the ability to resume content you started watching on a phone or tablet—as soon as you turn your TV on.
The odd thing about Android TV is that it might be completely separate from Chromecast, which will have its own interface and ecosystem of apps. “Chromecast won’t go away, so that may mean developers will have to build two different interfaces, one for Chromecast and one for Android TV,” The Verge writes. Perhaps the search giant wants to introduce something more powerful—similar to Fire TV.
Google hasn’t had much success taking over the living room, though Chromecast was certainly its best effort. Google TV has become more of an afterthought in the television, with set-top boxes being the obvious choice for many consumers. There are plenty of options available, especially with Amazon now in the mix, but if Android TV really is imminent, Google clearly believes there’s still room for even more competition. The company’s I/O conference is happening this summer, so perhaps we’ll find out more definite information then.
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