Google announces Android TV; it's totally not Google TV

Source: Google I/O

At Google I/O yesterday, Google introduced us to Google TV, a system that integrates live TV with an app experience and.... no wait, that's not right. Google TV is the old system. What Google introduced yesterday was ANDROID TV. It's completely different. It's a system that integrates live TV with an app experience.

OK so as a Google TV owner maybe I'm just a tad bitter that Google decided to reboot its attack on the living room, but I guess we all saw it coming. So what is Android TV really?

What Google was showing yesterday was a small streaming box. Think about a Roku, Apple TV or Fire TV with the addition of an HDMI-In port so you can watch live TV (cable or OTA) as well as access content from a variety of streaming apps. Like the Fire TV, Android TV also supports gaming (Roku technically does as well but gaming never seemed to take off on that platform) and Google had a solid looking gamepad at I/O. Hmm, now it sounds like an Xbox One!

Android TV will be based on Android L, the next major revision of the OS coming this fall. You'll be able to control it via your phone, a game controller or even one of the new Android-based smart watches. Voice controls are supported as well (probably not with the game controller). The system is supposed to be able to offer recommendations based on your past viewing history. In addition to various apps it also supports Google Casting. In other words it acts as a Chromecast as well.

Android TV will be built into TVs from Sony, Sharp and Philips next year (we may see more manufacturers added to that list over time). If you're not in the market for a new TV, Asus and Razer will be building stand-alone boxes. The Razer version seems to be a bit beefed up to add more of an emphasis on gaming. Engadget has more on Razer's device.

We don't have any specifics about price or availability yet. It's a safe bet that the stand-alone Android TV will be around $100 based on its competition.

So who is excited? I think the only way for Google to get Android TV established is by their partnership with TV manufacturers. If you haven't been intrigued by a Roku, Apple TV or Fire TV, I'm not sure what Google can do to excite you about an Android TV. I guess the one hook would be the HDMI pass-through and live TV. During the I/O keynote demo it looked like Android TV can replace your cable provider's on-screen guide, though that wasn't mentioned as part of the demo so maybe it was just a kind of video mock-up. I also don't want to make light of the value of available HDMI ports on our entertainment systems. Maybe that'll be enough. Maybe Google hopes happy Chromecast users will trade-up to Android TV.

If you're looking forward to Android TV, please share your reasons in the comment section below.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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