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Google working on Android TV - the successor to Google TV you actually want?

Tom Morgan
7 Apr 2014
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According to a leaked report, Google is working on a new TV-centric project, currently known as Android TV, which wants to take over your living room

Google is reportedly working on Android TV, a new set-top box that aims to simplify Smart TV and replace your existing PVR, media streamer or set-top box with on-demand and catch-up content from a growing number of sources. According to documents leaked to The Verge, Android TV is currently in development, with major developers working on creating apps specifically for the big screen interface.

Google Android TV

On-demand streaming apps sit side-by-side with Google's own content stores. Image credit: The Verge

This wouldn't be the first time Google has tried to muscle it's way into the living room; Google TV was a short-lived version of Android designed for larger screens, which arrived in the UK as Sony's NSZ-GS7 Internet Player. Unfortunately it wasn't quite ready for the prime time, despite Google CEO Eric Schmidt suggesting it would be appearing on the majority of Smart TVs launched in 2012.

Where Google TV tried to be too smart, however, Android TV aims to perfect the basics. It will have a simple, streamlined interface designed to put content first, with the Android operating system running deep beneath the surface. Google has reportedly stripped out much of Android's smartphone-centric features including telephone, camera, touchscreen and NFC support, and will be providing developers with ready-made interface mockups to keep apps simple and in keeping with the overall look.

That simplicity is embodied by the homescreen. A simple four-way directional pad on a remote control would get you from home screen to watching your content in just a few clicks, with films, TV shows, apps and games laid out in a series of cards.

Android TV will also include voice support and display notifications, although Google is apparently encouraging developers to be as sparing as possible with the latter feature.

Google Android TV

Each film, TV show, app or game is represented by a card, which should make navigation fairly simple. Image credit: The Verge

Amazon has only recently launched its own FireTV set-top box, which has virtually all of the features Google mentions in the leaked report, and Google itself has the Chromecast dongle for streaming many of the app and on-demand services the company is attempting to court with Android TV, so it's unclear who this new device is targeting.

For now, Google is keeping quiet on Android TV; it refused to give The Verge any comment for its story and has declined all subsequent requests. With developers hard at work, however, and Amazon's FireTV set-top box already on sale in the US, we may not be too far from an official reveal.