Yesterday at Google I/O Google announced another platform for set top boxes called Android TV. Android TV is part of the Android L SDK and uses Google’s new martial UI. It supports games, apps and content from different sources including HDMI, TV tuners and IPTV receivers. It has a very nice looking 10 foot UI that floats over the content, it has recommendations based on your usage patterns and as you would expect has built in search which includes voice natural language search. The minimum requirements to remote control Android TV is a D-Pad control so you can control it from a dedicated remote, phone, tablet or an Android Wear watch. Android TV also includes all the Chromecast features, so you can send content to via the standard casting apps in Android.
The material UI looks very nice on a large display, Google have done a nice job refining the UI for the TV and they are making it easy for developers to take their phone apps and scale them up to the big screen which should help get apps on to the platform. Google didn’t actualy say they are building an Android TV devices, they announced that Android TV will be built into some high end TVs and they are working with a range of vendors to produce set top boxes which will be released later this year.
The set top box market is a very crowded market and Google have already had a few attempts at cracking TV so it remains to be seen how successful this development will be. It’s pretty sad that Microsoft had the lead with Windows Media Center and has since abandoned the platform, back in 2010 it was pushing the embedded version of Windows Media Center which could have been integrated with the Xbox video/music store and OEMS could be selling the devices now, it’s a shame it wasn’t pursued and all the focus seems to be on the Xbox One which while being a great devices for entertainment apps it’s to expensive for non-games and Microsoft have no other offering.
You can see the presentation in the Google IO video, the Google TV part starts around 1:45:00