According to documents and screenshots obtained from an un-named source by the Verge, Google is readying a fourth attempt at becoming a major force in the entertainment industry. This time, though the focus is on Android, with the product to be called Android TV.
The interface appears to be quite interesting and easy to navigate. It does borrow heavily from the card interface that has been a mainstay of recent Google product user interfaces, but seems to offer a simplified interaction model which is required when interacting with a TV. Google has previously attacked the living room by essentially scaling Android up to the big screen, a strategy that has so far failed, with Google TV and the Nexus Q, two examples of products that either failed to achieve mainstream adoption, or just failed.
The interface will be simple. Google themselves note this in the documents that have been leaked :
Android TV is Android, optimized for the living room consumption experience on a TV screen. Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform. It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction.
According to Google the end product will be ‘cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast’.
From Google TV, through Nexus Q and more recently Chromecast, Google has been focused on delivering a winning combination for consumers of media content on large screened devices – basically, TVs – but for the most part, failing. The Google TV range of products saw only limited traction at retail, and mainly in the US at that. The Nexus Q failed to ever reach an actual retail release, being cancelled before being offered widely to consumers.
More recently however the Chromecast has been quite the success story for Google allowing them to create content deals with major distributors and it’s these relationships that Google will leverage, with partners already building for the platform now. This new product should not be seen as a replacement of the Chromecast though, it’s more a higher end progression of Chromecast with more options. With the success of Chromecast with both consumers and content providers, it would be expected that these new Android TV boxes would actually incorporate Chromecast as well as the Android TV interface, offering consumers a choice.
Google’s recent purchase of Green Throttle Games – makers of a Bluetooth game controller – can’t be ignored either, and the Google Play Games screen above indicates that a gaming component will be included. Google recently also made waves at the Game Developers Conference announcing cross platform gaming updates which would work quite nicely here as well.
Exactly who will be making the Android TV hardware is a good question. Google has in the past gone with a ‘Halo’ or Nexus device which shows the possibilities of the platform, before handing over to hardware partners. The Android Open Handset Alliance gives them access to a wide variety of OEM hardware manufacturers, including some big names from the TV industry.
The big names in the TV industry also come with distribution channels already in-place, and there’s definitely the possibility of expansion to a large global audience with Android TV. Google has expanded availability of Google Play services a lot lately, offering Google Play Movies in more than 60 countries now. They have also been slowly expanding availability of their TV offerings as well, recently beginning to offer TV Shows in Australia. Their Google Play Music and All Access music service continues to expand, with 25 countries now having access to it.
So, Google has the content deals down, access to hardware manufacturers, a seemingly decent looking interface, it’s now a matter of counting down to launch, could they announce AndroidTV at Google IO in June or will it come out beforehand?