SAN FRANCISCO—Google is taking another stab at bringing its operating platform to the television set with this week’s introduction of Android TV. Unlike its previous unsuccessful incarnation, Google TV, Android TV has a better head start, as it is based on its popular operating system for mobile devices.
“This isn’t a new platform,” said Google's Engineering Director David Burke in introducing Android TV at the company’s Google I/O 2014 developer conference this week. “We’re simply giving TV the same level of attention that phones and tablets have traditionally enjoyed.” Android TV will be a part of Google’s new “L” release of Android, which will be made available to developers this fall.
The UI is familiar to most customers of current OTT set tops like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. The operating system can be controlled via any Android-capable device and like Fire, Android TV features voice control remote and search functions. Content will come from the usual OTT apps like Netflix, Youtube, as well as Google Play and will also include Android apps, including games.
“A very TV-centric Playstore will open officially in the fall,” Burke added.
Android TV has also been designed to provide a more “leanback” television watching experience, overlaying video on the screen while giving viewers immediate access to applications ordered by usage according to Burke. Android TV will also offer full GoogleCast support which allows users to stream content from an Android device to the TV screen; so in essence, it can be used just like Chromecast, the $35 OTT device Google launched nearly a year ago.
Burke announced that Google is working with silicon companies like Intel and Marvell to integrate the OS into their chips and a number of set-top companies are working with Google to develop boxes for Android TV including Asus and Razr, which will debut this fall. The 2015 range of HD and 4K Smart TVs from Sony and the 2015 range of Sharp and Philips TP Vision will all include Android TV.