Back at Google I/O it was announcemed that a new version of Google TV would arrive based on Android 3.1, and Google was seeking willing participants to be part of a developer preview dubbed the “Fishtank” program. Well, Google has shipped out their new reference hardware packed with Google TV 2.0 beta, and we now have our first look at what we can expect.
Details on the actual software is a bit scant, but you can see from provided images that the Google TV team has done a pretty good job of porting the system to Honeycomb. The result is an interface that is as familiar for looking like Google TV as it is is for looking like Honeycomb. But this is a slightly stripped down version of Android 3.1, and it currently only has Live TV and Clock apps as well as a full version of Google Chrome for web browsing (there apparently has been a bit of a back-and-forth going on between Google and developers over opening up the API for the Live TV app).
The reference hardware runs on an Intel CE4100 chipset custom-designed for internet TV devices and features far more ports than originally included on the first run of Google TV devices. The back of the Fishtank box looks more like your standard DVR or cable box, and includes a coaxial port and component video connections, possibly hinting that this new version of Google TV won’t require an HD signal via HDMI (as of now, Live TV still only functions via the HDMI connections). There is no telling if these connections will remain for future Google TV hardware.
Earlier this week we saw Google TV devices begin to show up in our Android Market device lists, giving us hope the update to Google TV 2.0 would be coming soon. From the looks of this preview, the Google TV team still has some work to do before they can ship the update out to early adopters.