Android TV! Sound familiar? Sounds like Google playing semantics with the previous Google TV product which launched four years ago and eventually failed. That may be what you’re thinking, but you couldn’t be farther from the truth. While the original Google TV products were based on the Android platform, they were based in a separate and restricted set of libraries. They also tried to make a product that brought the web to your TV promoting it for browsing and more. This is where Android TV differs.
Android TV is simply expanding the same developer tools libraries with a new form factor, so almost anything you currently have on your mobile Android device will also work on Android TV with a simple addition of a device type. That really is it putting simply and there’s more to it and extensions specifically for TV, but it will make it much easier for developers to create a single app that will work on all devices.
Google’s announcement event showed the Android TV platform with other major differences. There wasn’t one QWERTY keyboard or track pad toting remote control in site. Instead, Google were showing off traditional remotes and Joysticks and simple android applications.
You can see in the frame captured above from the Android TV session video showing Chris Mckillop holding and controlling the Android TV with a gamepad.
Voice control is one of their big pushes for Android TV. I’ve been using the voice control on my XBox One for a few months, and while it’s not perfect, it is very usable. So are we all going to be happy sitting on our couches yelling at our TVs? Why not I guess, as long as we don’t have to keep repeating ourselves. In the demo, Dave Burke asked the question, “Who played Katniss in The Hunger Games?” to his phone, and received an almost immediate response from the Android TV in front of him.
There are many other benefits to the Android TV platform for the manufacturers and the customers. You know if you have Android TV on your TV set, it’s going to meet a certain specification so the performance should be good. You know it’s also going to be a Cast receiver acting just like the Chromecast does today.
Here’s the Android TV session video from Google I/O
With the advent of Android L, Google should have a single platform that spans our entire device selection. From Watches and smartphones to tablets and TVs and even our cars pretty soon as well. Google is set to dominate and maybe finally remove the fragmentation that Android has created.
If Google can get enough manufacturers to use Android TV as the platform for their Smart TVs, the whole world could become a better place, at least according to Google. I do have to agree. With so many manufacturers creating their own Smart TV platforms requiring applications and services such as Netflix and Hulu to support so many different platforms, it becomes very fragmented with varying experiences for manufacturer to manufacturer. There’s a lot more competition than four years ago so it’s going to be a harder sell, but they have the manpower to push hard.
Known supporters of the new platform already include Sony, Razer, ASUS, Philips and Sharp. With products expected as early as this fall.