Google’s upcoming Android TV leaks, plans to be your entertainment hub

Android TV

Shortly after Chromecast’s launch last July, Sundar Pichai in an interview with AllThingsD talking about Chromecast stated that something like Google TV was more of a high end system for applications and gaming, while Chromecast was on the low end for streaming. Over the past year, Google TV set top boxes have seen very little on the update front while Android TV or Nexus TV reports continued to churn at the rumor mill. Today, The Verge has obtained exclusive evidence that Android TV is real and that Google plans to make Android TV your go to entertainment hub.

Android TV aims to pick up where Google TV failed, by making the living room experience “cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast”. Google wants the Android TV UI to be something more than a modified smartphone user interface and a separate computing platform, aligning with other set top boxes such as Roku, Apple TV, or even the newly announced Fire TV from Amazon. The Android TV UI will consist of scrolling cards that represent content for TV shows, movies, music, apps, and games. You’ll interact with your Android TV by using a four way directional pad on your remote control, an optional game controller, or voice input.

Android TV Apps

Google plans to stand out from other manufacturers by putting “the Google” into Android TV. Instead of always having to browse through content, trying to find something to watch, play, or listen to, Google’s entertainment hub will proactively recommend things for you to do right on the home screen. This almost sounds similar to the Listen Now feature of Google Play Music, but for more than just music. Google also plans to harness their cloud syncing capabilities, allowing you to resume content you started watching on your smartphone or tablet. Google wants living room goers to never be more than 3 clicks or gestures away from getting exactly what they want.

Android TV Movies

As for apps, according to The Verge and the images above, we see that Play Movies, Play Music, YouTube, Hangouts, are available. We also see that big hitters such as Songza, Pandora, Hulu, Vevo, and Netflix are in the pipeline as well. Google is encouraging developers to optimize their applications for a consistent living room experience, focusing on simplicity.

What’s this mean for Chromecast? Seeing as the $35 dongle just launched in other parts of the world, it seems Chromecast has a niche of it’s own to fill as originally stated by Sundar last summer. It is a little odd that Google would want developers to focus on yet another platform, but it’s still way too early to tell as we have very little information on this subject.

We’ll be keeping an eye out over the next few months leading up to Google IO in June. Chances are we’ll hear a lot more about Android TV and the fate of Chromecast then.

Source: The Verge

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  • Max

    I predict this will cost $80-100 (extra if it has a game controller), and fully support all chromecasting features and be completely con.

    • Max

      Sry the phandroid app forced closed on me….and be completely controllable by android and ios devices, the big question would be if it has hdmi passthrough or not. Basically a super chromecast with custom play store. Very similar to fire tv.

      • HeatFan786

        To keep the price down, I think it will not come with an HDMI in. I think that it will be similar to Apple TV. I had an Apple TV and it was nifty, but the device was not worth $100.

        • spicymeatball

          2 port HDMI Inputs with 1 optical audio out would solve a lot of problems for me. DVD/Blueray Player and Cable tv.

    • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

      I would assume pricing would be similar to other Android based hardware such as Fire TV and OUYA. $100 and another $40 for a controller. I HOPE that casting capabilities come to the Android TV box, if not, it’s going to have a lot of developers upset having wasted their time on top of having to come up with an app that utilize the new UI standards.

    • niuguy

      HD audio or gtfo!

      • Max

        Chromecast already supports 5.1 audio. By HD audio do you mean it should support full dolby/dts decoding? or that it should have an optical audio out in addition to hdmi? or that it should have HD radio service?

  • Ross McAusland

    I just hope that they do Play Movies and TV All Access if they do this. It would be a great addition to their services

    • No_Nickname90

      Yes!! A streaming service to compete against Netflix and others. Something like that would be lovely. Though I can imagine it having ads since they offer a lot of current TV episodes.

      That would be fine since Google shows ads that are relevant.

      • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

        I would be in heaven if a subscription movie service game to Play Movies and TV. I’d cancel Netflix and possibly Hulu depending on show availability. Hell, I’d even be happy with UltraViolet support for Play Movies.

  • robjackson81

    They should take a hard look at Fire TV … it’s not all that great but the UI is so clean and fast.. Really liking it.

    • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

      Google did say that they wanted content to be recommended right on the home screen, most likely utilizing the Knowledge Graph and your personal preferences. And, everything else should be able to be found and started in less than 3 clicks or gestures. Making it simple is key.

  • earth

    Probably a long shot but Google has rights to most ‘cable’ channels on Google Fiber TV in KC. They have their own satellite farm and technically could add to GTV but I wonder if they legally could make it happen some day.

    BTW, I just got Google Fiber this weekend, working on review here, with performance tests to coasts…

    http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r29157624-Google-Fiber-Kansas-City

  • Delmar

    If google was more competitive with vudu movies on pricing and availability, I would switch over fast

  • phinn

    Nexus TV?

  • PaulEVanscoy

    Probably a lbong shot but Google has rights to most ‘cable’ channels on Google Fiber TV in KC. They have their own satellite farm and technically could add to GTV but I wonder if they legally could make it happen some day. http://qr.net/stx3

  • steveb944

    Does this finally mean my GTV device is dead? It’s about time it’s confirmed. Time for the next step

  • AlexMWilliams

    Doesn’t Chromecast kind of make this irrelevant?

    • NexusMan

      Chromecast requires the use of a phone or tablet, does not provide a unified interface with universal search, does not provide suggestions, is not a gaming device, does not support voice input and notifications, and does not work with Hangouts.

      • AlexMWilliams

        Who the heck doesn’t have a phone today? Universal search is kind of cool but I don’t give a hoot about suggestions when my phone and tablet already does that. Voice input means nothing to me and so does notifications. Hangout support for my TV is vaguely intriguing but I can’t see shelling out 100$ for media consumption when Chromecast can do it for much cheaper and the rest of the stuff is either A. not needed or B. done better by something else. Android games on the TV isn’t a selling point to me

        • NexusMan

          I didn’t realize your question was “what about Android TV will make ME buy it.” I thought your question was, “Doesn’t Chromecast kind of make this irrelevant?” And the answer to THAT question remains NO, because it is a completely different type of device, for all of the reasons I listed (and I’m sure more to be revealed), and those features DO appeal to many. A simple, unified interface may not matter to you, but most people welcome that. And the point is not that people don’t have phones, the point is that people don’t need to (or perhaps want to) sit around searching things on and controlling things on a tablet or phone in hand, every time they want to watch tv. Voice input means nothing to you, but most will welcome speaking a name, subject, or long title much more than typing it out on a minuscule remote or device. As for pricing, that hasn’t been announced, so I’m not sure why you’re talking about justifying “$100.” Also not sure how you know what is “done better by something else,” in regards to a device that has not been released.

          • AlexMWilliams

            If I want to play games, I’ll play them on a gaming console. That’s what I’m talking about. Be the best at something, not mediocre to good at a bunch of things. I hope it does well because I love Google but I see no reason in buying this if I already have a Chromecast. If I didn’t have a Chromecast, yeah I’d buy this over a Chromecast but Chromecast sold like hot cakes, why not continue to put resources into that? Seems like they’re cannibalizing

          • NexusMan

            Having both a Tivo (the best entertainment hub IMO) and a Chromecast, I am pretty content with my entertainment hub situation. If I did not have them both, this would be a no brainer. I still, however, am very interested in seeing how this pans out and all the new things it will offer, and at what price point.

          • Max

            It’s not cannibalizing if it includes all the chromecasting features + more, which based on the introduction speech they gave when they announced chromecast makes sense. Chromecast isn’t the only device that supports casting from some apps like netflix/youtube/etc to them (smart tvs, ps3/4 and such).

            the idea of chromecasting is to become a standard, like e-mail. The only reason it hasn’t spread further is hardware limitations, I’m hoping.

          • AlexMWilliams

            That is exactly what cannibalizing is…

          • Max

            No if it has a higher profit margin, like say ordering your car with optional navigation, upgraded audio, and leather, it isn’t cannibalizing. It’s selling a higher priced version of an existing product, and possibly selling more. Now you can argue chromecast definitely cannibalized older google tv box sales, by being cheaper and doing the job better (although not doing everything a gtv quite did).

          • AlexMWilliams

            Creating a product that will take away sales from another product is cannibalizing. You won’t need a Chromecast if you have one of these things, how could you not say that is cannibalizing? There will be less Chromecasts bought now because of this product.

          • http://www.RandomITstuff.com/ Darren Cato

            If Kodak was smart enough to cannibalize early, they may still be relevant. Sometimes cannibalizing is a good thing.

          • Chris Eager

            It IS cannibalizing….it’s NOT the same as ordering upgrades to the same make and model car as it’s not the same make and model. It’s a different product with a different name that could potentially trump the Chromecast. Although I highly doubt it will as Chromecast is (presumably) more effective for many (non-techies that outnumber the techies). Chromecast apps will also be released and updated to keep up with Android TV technology and convenience.

            Yes, I understand that my analogy contradicts what cannibalizing means if Android TV does not destroy Chromecast sales, but if it does, then it is indeed cannibalizing.

    • spicymeatball

      Here is the deal where this comes in handy. Let’s say you have a family member with an old smart phone that comes to stay at your house for a month and they want to watch tv. They can’t watch your netflix account at your house because they don’t have your phone. You could lend them a tablet or such which would work and is what I’m thinking of doing, but for a lot of people they want that stupid remote in their hand and point it at the TV. Personally I agree chromecast is the way to go, but in a few corner cases we like our entertainment console.

      • Max

        That’s one of the nice things about chromecast, you can use your own netflix account, so your family members can use their own netflix accounts on their own phones, netflix apps works on pretty much any smartphone, unless they have a feature phone or something.

        It drives me crazy when I go over to my friends and I can’t cast netflix from my phone to his ps3/4, because I am on a different netflix account. Hopefully one day netflix will work this out and let you switch amongst multiple netflix accounts on devices like smart tvs and ps3/4’s.

  • Brian

    I hope my LG Google TV is updated to this.

  • Raja’ee Ameir
  • Barret

    Why did I buy a Chromecast? I’d rather use a remote than have to be tied to my phone.

    • NexusMan

      Because it’s cool. And available now. And only $35.

    • Hank S

      I feel the opposite. I’ve had several of these “smart TV” systems, including 2 Google TV’s and the built-in Samsung system. The typical cable box remotes don’t have keyboards, so you always end up having to reach for a separate controller. But since my phone is usually handy, I love using HBO GO on the Chromecast. Now it would be nice if after I used the phone to “browse”, if I could then use the remote for pause/forward, etc. So either a Chromecast that accepts IR signals or a remote with built-in Chromecast support?

  • Marcus Martin

    With Android TV at home ,,,Chromecast will go in my pocket. I’ll take it with me to hook into friends tvs and to hotels when I travel.

    • itmustbejj

      Too bad it doesn’t work on 99.99% of hotel wifi networks.

  • CryptoNoel

    I just hope that the current TVs can get updated

  • Jay Kresge

    My understanding is that Chromecast was just a feature demo. The ability to “cast” will be built into numerous devices going forward, so that a device such as an Android TV could act as a chromecast (IE, cast from your phone to the Android TV) when you’re to lazy to use the built in apps on the device itself.

    Youtube already works like this on many devices. We can “cast” from our Android and iPhones and my wife’s Android tablet to our WDTV using YouTube. Since Google Play movies are accessible via Youtube once purchased/rented, you essentially have your Google Play library available.

  • Scott Stafford

    I’ll 100% buy this as soon as it’s available. I have Chromecast and a couple GoogleTV devices. GoogleTV (read Android tv) has so much potential. I hope this is the home run I know it can be.

  • http://www.behance.net/stephen_victor Stephen Victor

    This isn’t for me. The bae and I both have modern smartphones and TVs. Our Chromecast sticks do exactly what they need to do and nothing else to complicate the matter. I’m over the Roku-style menus .

    At any rate, what any connected TV device is missing is the lean-back experience. Why can’t there just be something that instantly plays based on the user’s preferred queue? For instance, I want Netflix’s My List as the default. I turn my TV on. Boom; House of Cards resumes where I left off. If I channel up or down, I can see a side bar of “channels” aka other queues to hop over to. If I switch to the Hulu queue, I can start whatever is next immediately.

    • Brian

      Are these “other queues” created by you or the tool?
      The “automatic resume” feature is already supported standard by everything from your cable DVR to Netflix and Plex.

      “Switching queues” sounds alot like switching channels on a Roku honestly.

      • http://www.behance.net/stephen_victor Stephen Victor

        No, what I was describing is different. It takes it a step further. As of now, switching channels in Roku doesn’t automatically play what’s next in a queue; you just get the home UI of the newly selected channel.

        Example: If I want to stop watching something in my Hulu queue as it is still playing, So I hit “More Shows.” A menu slides over from the right, maybe taking up 1/3 of the screen. I can see a vertical stack of “channels” aka other queues from Amazon, Netflix, Aol On, HuffPost Live, CNET, Yahoo Screen, YouTube etc and also the corresponding name of the show that’s next to play from each channel. I see Primetime in No Time is next in my Yahoo Screen queue. I select it.

        This show plays nearly automatically, if not automatically — thus creating the instant, lean-back experience connected TV is missing today.

        • Brian

          I personally find “auto play” to be really obnoxious, and it slows you down if it’s not exactly what you want to watch. It just makes me think of all old annoying Myspace pages, or a shitty website that opens video advertisements off-screen somewhere.

          I think in order to incorporate such a fluid context switch between *independent* applications will significantly hinder/constrain development of new apps & channels. Apple TV has such design requirements, and thus they have many fewer channels than Roku. And honestly, I don’t think content delivery service developers care to become more interoperable with their direct competitors (e.g. Netflix & Hulu Plus).

          Conversely, auto-on makes sense for something that is *Live* like a channel that is literally a tv stream, like Dishworld or the various sports channels (subscriptions required). I would love if cable providers that have live stream apps for ipads/tablets would also provide the same functionality in a Roku channel … but that would directly compete with purchasing/renting another cable box (not in their best interest). I would consider paying $0.99/month for a TV stream channel for a Roku (or other media box) connected to a guest tv without cable, but i’m not going to get another hd cable box.

          • http://www.behance.net/stephen_victor Stephen Victor

            It’s not akin to an MP3 playing right away on a myspace page. Consider this: it’s what TV has always been; you turn the channel, the new channel works automatically. It’s taking decades of familiarity and making it work for internet-based TV. Switching from House of Cards on Neflix to Bob’s Burgers on Hulu is a seamless fashion would be a dream. I take myself out of the equation; no more x amount of clicks to get to what I want to get to.

            However, if there’s a button that allows users to see ahead past what’s next in the queue, then having the ability to select that item, I think you could then avoid having something auto-play that you wouldn’t want, despite it being deliberately in your queue.

  • Smartphone World

    Android in TV ! Great ! http://www.note4galaxy.com

  • Carl Rood

    I think the suggestions feature is a good idea as it’s a step in the right direct towards solving what’s essentially a problem with most of these devices. For most, TV is still essentially a passive medium. People watch what currently broadcast; either by appointment or surf around to find something on that strikes their fancy. That’s still the majority of viewing.

    Psychologically, people don’t do well with too many choices. Often they end up making no choice because now they’re looking for the “perfect” thing they’re in the mood for and nothing fits completely. Alternately, they just watch the same few choices because it’s the easier way.

    I’m not sure the gaming feature will be a big seller, because high end gaming consoles offer similar features and better games.

  • Joshhud

    What i want to know is if older google TV devices will be upgrade to the Android TV. im thinking about getting that Asus Cube deal

  • egern

    Cool – any chance they’ll have a webcam and microphone extension for use with Hangouts? Anyway, include that, a well-designed game controller (emulators anyone?), and Chromecast functionality and I’ll really consider it. Tough to justify it over the Chromecast though… I love that little thing. It’s so nice to not have to grab another remote and navigate a TV screen menu. Smartphone interfaces are always faster and more simple. Maybe you can control Android TV just as easily with a smartphone?

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