Google to launch Android TV to take on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV in the battle for the living room


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The battle for the living room is heating up, with most big tech companies fighting for a share of the connected TV market. After Amazon’s Fire TVThe Verge reports that Google is working on Android TV, a platform for connected TV devices.

Google of course already has two streaming TV platforms. First is the Google TV, which failed despite Chairman Eric Schmidt’s claim of it being on most TVs in the US, and the second is the recently introduced Chromecast, a $35 HDMI dongle. We thought that Chromecast would be Google’s sole attempt at bringing its own video services to the TV, but The Verge’s new report reveals that Google’s ambitions are much higher.

From The Verge:

Google is about to launch a renewed assault on your television set called Android TV. Major video app providers are building for the platform right now. Android TV may sound like a semantic difference — after all, Google TV was based on Android — but it’s something very different. Android TV is no longer a crazy attempt to turn your TV into a bigger, more powerful smartphone. “Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform,” writes Google. “It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction.” It will be “cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast.”

Google’s new vision for Android TV is less ambitious and easier to understand. The company is calling for developers to build extremely simple TV apps for an extremely simple set-top-box interface. While Android still lives under the hood, the interface will consist of a set of scrolling “cards” that represent movies, shows, apps, and games sitting on a shelf. You use a remote control with a four-way directional pad to scroll left and right through different suggestions, or up and down through different categories of content, each with their own shelves. Much like on other set top boxes, each item will be like a miniature movie poster or book cover, and you’ll pick the one you want. The controller will also have Enter, Home, and Back buttons to help get around, and there will be “optional” game controllers.

In addition to the remote control, you could also use voice input to control your TV or search through content. Google seems to be paying special attention to the ease-of-use of the TV interface through the remote, with the document mentioning that it shouldn’t take more than three clicks to go from the home screen to playing media.

Google is reportedly working with select app developers right now to make apps and games for the Android TV. Screenshots seem to suggest that apps like Hulu, Netflix, Songza, Plants vs. Zombies, Pandora and of course Google’s own apps are already ready for Android TV.

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The interface shown in the leaked screenshots looks quite nice. Let us know what you think about it in the comments below.

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