Android coming to TVs and standalone ”streaming boxes”

Android is coming to the living room in a big way. Dave Burke, Google’s engineering director for Android, revealed during the I/O keynote that televisions are now being given "the same level of attention" as smartphones and tablets. Android TV will use the same SDK as those devices, and Google has equipped the developer kit with lots of couch-friendly interface goodies. Adapting existing apps for big-screen TVs is apparently easy.

"Users don’t expect or want complexity" in their televisions, Burke said, so the Android TV interface is extremely streamlined. Recommended content, applications, and games are organized into tiers that can be navigated with little more than a directional pad and voice input. User habits dictate how everything is organized, and voice-based search is tightly integrated into the experience. The search functionality can be used not only to seek out content, but also to answer questions about it, should you need to settle an argument.

Android TV has an input framework for live broadcasts, complete with the channel information and other details one would expect. Chromecast functionality is also built in. Google showed off numerous enhancements to that platform, including imagery feeds and a nifty screen mirroring mode for smartphones and tablets.

Sharp, Sony, and Philips have already signed on to use Android TV in their next-gen televisions. Stand-alone set-top devices will run the OS, too, including "streaming boxes" from Asus and Razer. Those devices are due later this year, and according to Wired, the Razer will be a "micro-console" with an "affordable" price tag. It will reportedly be capable of playing "hardcore" games, suggesting Shield-style streaming could be involved. Burke also mentioned that the Android TV reference design is based on Nvidia’s Tegra K1 SoC, a chip that should be primed to receive PC gaming feeds.

Conspicuously absent from the discussion of Android TV was any mention of a Nexus-branded set-top box. Google seems content to let its hardware partners to fill out that end of the equation, much like it’s increasingly doing with Android on other platforms.

Comments closed
    • insulin_junkie72
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Sharp, Sony, and Philips have already signed on to use Android TV in their next-gen televisions.[/quote<] Sharp has no money and an uncertain future. Sony has given strong indications it's not going to be in the TV business much longer. Philips hasn't made TVs in North America for some time, and is a license that gets sold along with Magnavox and Emerson to put on cheapish TVs. Google needs to get more partners ASAP. Roku only has TCL and Hisense TVs coming this fall, but at least I'm confident that those two Chinese giants will still be selling TVs in the US two years from now...

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    I’m hoping this leads to nVidia and/or Razer building out a Tegra K1-based streamer for Steam games from PC.

    Actually, I wish Steam would throw us a bone with a Steam streamer based around Android TV that did nothing but everything Android TV already does PLUS an Android app to stream PC games.

    Though Limelight might do the trick with a wired, high performance Android chipset built into a Roku-like box.

    • slaimus
    • 7 years ago

    With LG using WebOS and Samsung using Tizen(Symbian), we just need some “Windows TV” sets to restart the 2009 mobile OS wars all over again.

    • Price0331
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Android is coming to the living in a big way.[/quote<] Ha, that's good. Before I thought it was just for zombies. :-p

    • Deadsalt
    • 7 years ago

    I hope XBMC is ported to this. I find that I don’t use any fancy filters on my content on my HTPC, so a small box that does local and streaming content would be great.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      There are a ton of options already out there for that (also the linux port is usually faster and more feature rich than the Android ports).

        • Deadsalt
        • 7 years ago

        Can you elaborate on those options? I find the streaming apps on XBMC pretty terrible, and I don’t like Plex.

          • hbarnwheeler
          • 7 years ago

          If you want XBMC and streaming apps in a cheap all-in-one box, you’ll need to look at Android options. AMLogic SOCs have thewidest range of hardware acceleration support for common codecs. See this page of the [url=http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Android_hardware#cite_note-Firmware_upgrade_might_be_needed_for_smooth_playback-1/<]XBMC Wiki.[/url<]

            • HisDivineOrder
            • 7 years ago

            Or he can wait for an Android TV and the inevitable XBMC port (since XBMC already has been ported to Android).

            • hbarnwheeler
            • 7 years ago

            I doubt it will ship with an AMLogic SOC. Though, it may have an SOC beefy enough to do software decoding. It all depends on what type of media you want to play.

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    Unless they manage to give it more polish and consistency than something like XBMC, I’m not sure it would be worth getting an android box over something like a NUC or even a game console when it comes to media consumption. I’ve grown cynical when it comes to smart TV’s and such, just little things here and there that can spoil the entire experience if the hardware and software design teams aren’t careful

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      As always, depends on cost.

      If you could get this for $50-75, you’re talking about a different class of product than a NUC.

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    FOURTH TIMES THE CHARM! AMIRITE? THIS TIME WHEN YOU SAY IT WONT SUCK I’LL BELIEVE YOU, DESPITE THE LAST THREE FAILED ATTEMPTS!

    “By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded”
    Good old eric

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      I actually think this is their 5th kick at the cat.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        so you’re saying they should just give up?

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          Yup, unless they can secure content internationally. There is little hope for streaming solutions to hit it big time as long as content is country restricted.

            • HisDivineOrder
            • 7 years ago

            Seems like if they can make it cheap and easy enough, just replacing the crap interfaces that are usually in high end (so-called) “smart TV’s” would be a great start for Google.

            If their aspiration is to essentially be everywhere you go (not unlike ARM’s aspirations), they don’t have to win the home theater to win the race. They just have to be Scientific Atlanta to Roku’s Tivo. That is, provide much the same functionality and at a cheaper price because of multiple partners. Suddenly, Roku is penned in and Google has the advantage of basically giving the whole thing away for nothing.

            If Roku is a growing market, then Android TV has nowhere to go but up. In this light, Google securing international content matters less than just Google securing Netflix or the equivalent of other countries.

            And Android’s doing a pretty decent job of that, so one can expect an overtly, loudly, proudly Android-based TV initiative to carry that forward in a way that the previously “Hush, hush, GoogleTV, ChromeOS, and Android are all separate” mantra did not.

    • tanker27
    • 7 years ago

    I’m actually interested in this. I wonder if someone will take the SDK and make some sort of XBMC out of it. Or even port it to Raspberry Pi.

    I’m not really into integrating games for that I would just get a console. But getting A-Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, etc all in one places while also allowing me to stream/connect my ‘collection’ would be pretty nice.

      • Deadsalt
      • 7 years ago

      XBMC has.an Android app already, and Google said it would be easy to make existing apps work with Android TV.

      XBMC also has an Apple TV app so I don’t see why they wouldn’t make one for Android TV.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    This could be a good thing.

    The interfaces and EPG for Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG etc are all completely different (and mostly all pretty poor, too).

    Having one consistent interface across devices that is compatible with your existing store purchases sounds like a good idea..

    <NSA> Obligatory tinfoil hat, privacy invasion comment here </NSA>

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