The world loves a trier, and Google are certainly that when it comes to connected TV operating systems. From one end of the scale is the flop that was Google TV, and then the blockbustingly successful Chromecast dongle. And now just to confirm things come in three’s, Google have launched the Android TV OS which will combine streaming, games, music and catch-up services.
The software announced at Google’s annual I/O developer conference will run on a number of devices including Smart TVs, set-top boxes, and game consoles, with synchronization and control features available from phones, tablets and smartwatches.
Android TV is basically a reworking of the Google TV OS with the familiar Android front end specially adapted for TV watching. The software overlays icons and apps over whatever is being watched either live, streamed or on-demand. The sophisticated search engine can recognize voice commands. and will pick up shows from a number of sources both from streaming services and broadcast TV.
By talking into a phone or tablet, Android TV will provide content sources, recommendations for films, shows and apps. So if for example a user searches for Sons of Anarchy, they will get streaming options from Netflix, and Google Play while also offering cast details and clips. Clicking on a cast member will give a list of films and movies they have starred in.
Playing games will also be a big feature of Android TV, with interaction between the big screen and different controllers including tablets and smartphones.
Android TV devices will also be compatible with the Chromecast stick, offering inbuilt casting features that will mirror what is running on a phone, Chrome OS, or tablet to the Android TV device. Google also confirmed they have sold millions of Chromecasts.
Android TV enabled devices from partners including Sony, Sharp & TP Vision are expected to start hitting the stores by late 2014, and dedicated apps will arrive in the fall to coincide with the new Android OS