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Google Announces Third Attempt at TV

2 Jul, 2014 By: Doug McPherson


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Google officials announced the company’s latest (and third) effort at TV at its annual developer conference last week. Called Android TV, it will let viewers control their TVs through several mobile devices including “smart watches” and voice commands.

Android TV will run on TVs, set-top boxes and game consoles. Sony, Sharp and TP Vision are the first manufacturers to sign up to put the software in their upcoming TVs.

Android engineering director Dave Burke called the TV space of today similar to the mobile space in 2006. “As a result, smart TVs are typically limited and not comparable with their mobile cousins. We’re simply giving TV the same level of attention as phones and tablets have traditionally enjoyed,” he said at the event.

Android TV users will get recommendations for films, TV shows and apps, and will be able to search for content by speaking into their smartphones or tablets, including searches for specific shows and films.

Google also is reportedly courting game developers to make apps for Android TV.

The company’s first attempt, the Google TV software for connected TVs and set-top boxes, flopped. Its second try, the Chromecast dongle, has been more popular and let users stream media to their TVs via their Android devices.

For its third attempt, Google said its cast technology and the Chromecast dongle are part of Android TV, and that it has sold “millions” of Chromecasts and attracted more than 10,000 Chromecast-compatible apps.

The company is launching a dedicated website to help people discover Chromecast apps along with adding new features including the ability for people to “cast” media to televisions other than their own. Google is also adding a backdrop feature to show news, weather and photos on TVs when they’re not being casted to.

Michael Wolf, a contributor at Forbes.com, says on the surface, Google’s new approach makes sense. “By simplifying the look and feel and bringing the TV platform much closer to core Android, the company is giving TV OEMs a fully turnkey platform they can build around without investing huge R&D into developing their own software. It also gives consumers something they may actually want, such as access to Android games and Google Cast,” Wolf says.

But will it succeed? “Ultimately the answer will hinge on two things: How dedicated TV OEMs will be over time to the platform, and how compelling the offering is to consumers,” Wolf says.
 


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