Google TV came with a lot of noise about changing television as we know it and… well, left under a cloud of shame as it failed to change anything. So Google is trying again, this time with the much simpler Android TV. Here’s what you should know.
1. This Isn’t The Chromecast.
One could argue that Google has already achieved success beyond imagining with the Chromecast, which is a dirt-cheap $35 HDMI dongle that essentially mirrors anything you’ve got on your desktop to your TV. This apparently won’t be tied closely to that success however, perhaps because Google is hoping to get Android TV on set-top boxes from manufacturers, or at least streamline how Android streams content.
2. It’s Very Much About Ease Of Use.
Essentially Google is taking a “content-first” tack with Android TV. Instead of having to open an app and poke around inside of that app, you’ll search for content on the interface and have it brought to you by choosing the service you want to use. It’s a clever idea, but it does require the participation of those actually streaming the video, who may not be enthused by the idea of having to compete with other services. That said, though…
3. Google Appears To Have A Lot Of Content.
Just as surprising as Google’s reaffirming of TV as a place to go is that it’s managing to secure content deals. Needless to say, Android TV will support Google’s Play Store, so anything you’ve happened to buy from that will be available on Android TV. More importantly, though, it appears that companies like Netflix and Hulu will be on board from the get-go, as well as a host of smaller companies streaming content. There isn’t any slam-dunk being reported among the rumors, but it’s still a better range of content than Google TV ever had.
4. It Might Be Both Software And A Device.
Google has, in the past, loved to code software and give it away for free, while also putting out a demo unit that shows how it “should” be done. Witness the arrival of Android usually being followed by either an upgrade to the Nexus hardware or the arrival of a “stock” phone in the Google Play store. It appears that Google will be doing this with Android TV; it’ll be an operating system, but Google will also sell a set-top box. Whether this set-top box will meet the same fate as Google’s failed Nexus Q remains to be seen, though.
5. Google is Going To Push This Hard.
Either way, expect a fairly aggressive push on Google’s part to get Android TV out there, which will include sales. Google’s got a lot invested in not just being your search engine, but also your media store, and it wants to make that happen very keenly. So, if you’re looking for deals, keep a sharp eye out: Android TV might have enough cheap movies and TV shows to be interesting, even if you won’t give up your Roku or Apple TV right away.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.