Android continues its expansion into the living room with launch of Android TV
Google has not been letting us down when it comes to confirming a lot of the big Google I/O notes we were expecting the company to hit, and following a number of leaks pointing to the launch of Android TV, Google’s gone ahead and confirmed the project.
Android TV makes full use of the arrival of new features in Android L, giving devices the ability to accept live video input – this allows Android TV hardware to superimpose its UI over a stream from an external source, like a cable box. The interface is designed to minimize complexity, allowing control with as little as a simple directional pad on a remote (with voice support to pick up the slack). Of course, there’s also a corresponding smartphone app, letting you use your handset to interact with an Android TV device. Even Android Wear watches can be used as input devices.
Expanding on that idea of simplicity, recommendations are going to be a big part of the Android TV experience, freeing users from the need to hunt down new content and instead hitting them with smartly tailored suggestions, as well as sorting things like apps by frequency of use.
But for when you do need to find something outside of those suggested items, voice search comes to your rescue – no need to over-complicate a television by giving it a keyboard. Results will present you with content to watch, as well as answering your questions about actors or programs, all leveraging Google’s search prowess.
While Google isn’t making a straight-up Android game console, gaming will be a big part of Android TV, and the marriage of big screens with support for hardware gamepads promises to offer a similar experience to what gamers get from their dedicated consoles. You can even link up with players on their phones or tablets – not all gamers need to be on the TV itself.
Android TV duplicates the casting supported with Chromecast, letting users quickly send video or audio content to the system.
There’s a tweaked Play Store with a TV-appropriate interface, where users will be able to install apps optimized for Android TV. That’s going live this fall, with Android L’s formal arrival.
Android TV is designed to be supported by a number of device types, ranging from integration with TV sets themselves, to being an add-on set top box. Sony, Sharp, and TPVision are all confirmed to be delivering HDTVs with Android TV built in.