Ever since the announcement of Google TV at I/O 2010, Google’s aim with their Android-based smart television platform was fuzzy at best. Today things become a bit clearer with the introduction of Android TV, an evolution of the concept that strips away some of the more ambitious features of Google TV and rolls the remainder into the newly-announced Android ‘L’ SDK, streamlining the platforms and making sure TV isn’t left behind.
Google TV debuted with several hardware partners in tow, Logitech and Sony in particular showing up big for the launch. Over the next several months the initiative seemed to slip further and further out of Google’s plans despite several promising hardware options reaching market as well as strides on the software front. At times, Google TV seemed destined to go the way of other short-lived products like the Nexus Q.
Android TV more or less starts from scratch, but it isn’t that unlike what was initially offered with Google TV. The platform will still be available as a software SDK that can be deployed by any manufacturer, it integrates live TV with downloadable and streamed content, and it incorporates search and viewing suggestions to reveal new content for viewers.
Games will also be a huge part of Android TV, taking advantage of the large library of titles found in the Google Play Store and syncing with Google Play leaderboards and friends. Because the SDK branches out from Android ‘L,’ it will be easier than ever for developers to get their apps and games on as many screens as possible
Android TV will also work in conjunction with Android implementations found on other devices, including smartphone and wearable apps, as well as Chromecast-like functionality to “cast” content from a tablet direct to television.
Sony, Sharp, and other manufacturers are already committed to the inclusion of Android TV in their upcoming HDTV lineups. But we’ve seen this story before. Manufacturing partners do not guarantee success, but Google’s new approach to television looks to be based on some hard lessons learned from their initial attempts with Google TV.