Google has announced its latest product offering: Android TV. Can it make a splash in a marketplace where so many people are already happy with their Apple TV, Roku, or Amazon’s Fire TV? Here’s what you need to know about this intriguing new Android service.
1. Android TV Is Not a Set Top Box
Despite the many rumors surrounding the I/O Keynote, Google did not reveal a set top box to rival the Apple TV. Instead, they debuted Android TV, which is something of a different TV tool.
Android TV is a smart TV interface. Android TV requires just a device with touch controls and the ability to accept voice input (such as the Android phone you already own, or an Android tablet, or even an Android Wear smartwatch.) The Verge writes, “Running atop Android L, Android TV will run on hardware a la Google TV and set-top boxes like Apple TV and Roku and consoles, but with an added focus on gaming..”
2. Android TV Supports Voice Search
One of the hottest features on Amazon’s Fire TV is the ability to search for a show by speaking into the remote, rather than having to type using the on-screen keyboard. Android TV is giving Amazon TV a run for its money in this department.
During the Google I/O keynote, one presenter showcased how Android TV works with your voice for a faster search experience. During the demo, the presenter simply spoke into his Nexus 5. By simply saying “Breaking Bad,” a ton of “Breaking Bad” content was displayed, including store links to buy the content, as well as relevant YouTube links.
3. 2015 Sharp & Sony 4K TVs Will Support Android TV
Notably missing from Google's Android TV partners – Samsung, which has its own platform, and Logitech, which was badly burned by GoogleTV
— Avi Greengart (@greengart) June 25, 2014
If you’re looking to buy a new TV next year, Sony and Sharp’s upcoming 4K TV sets will play nice with Android TV. More details about release dates and pricing are expected in the coming months.
4. Android TV Will Also Appeal to Video Game Fans
Razer's making a gaming 'micro-console' with Android TV, available this fall http://t.co/q0URvW9fAS
— Ebay Gadgets UK (@EbayGadgetsUK) June 25, 2014
NBA Jam was featured during the Android TV demo, but many other games will have support for Android TV and Android games. You will be able to control your character on screen by using an Android tablet, gamepad, or (one assumes) an Android smartphone.
5. Android TV Still Has Some Unanswered Questions
Why do Chromecast and Android TV feel like completely separate products instead of a product family?
— nilay patel (@reckless) June 25, 2014
The demo of Android TV at Google I/O was quite short, so there are a lot of unanswered questions that are lingering about the Android TV experience. More info about Android TV is likely to trickle out as I/O continues, and as the launch date for Android L draws ever closer.