Just as it was rumored way back, Google has today announced Android TV. This isn’t a new platform, that’s the point. It reminds us of Google TV. But now this one is basically the same thing as phones and tablets. There’s a single Android SDK for all form factors. Android TV requires just a D Pad with voice input. There’s an Android TV app on the phone. This is an early look at TV support in Android L. Android TV can support inputs from HDMI, receivers, etc. The home screen overlays on top of the currently playing show or movie.
SUPER SIMPLE USER INTERFACE
It’s exactly what we figured it would look like, it’s a “super simple interface.” Recommendation system is at the top, and any app can get in there (unlike on Amazon’s Fire TV). Then there are apps and games, too. Burke is using voice search, speaking into his Nexus 5. “Breaking Bad,” and there’s a bunch of Breaking Bad content, from store links to YouTube links.Apps have bright, colorful left-rails with navigation options. On the right are the standard grids of movie posters. Basically this is how almost all new set-top box interfaces look. You can use your Android Wear watch to control your Android TV.
YOU CAN ALSO PLAY GAMES
You can use a gamepad or tablet to play the games. These games are basically Android-level, which is to say all right but not totally mind-blowing. Android TV supports Google Cast, so you can use it just like a Chromecast. There’s also a “TV-centric” Play store experience. It will open in the fall with the launch of L. The entire 2015 HD and 4K smart TV ranges from Sony, Sharp, TP vision, and Philips will run on Android TV. Android TV can run on a ton of different processors. Developers can download a thing called “ADT1,” to get started making apps at developer.android.com/TV.
CHROME CAST GOING SOCIAL
Remember that review we had recently made on the Chromecast? Well its time for Google to upgrade something. According to Google, they have sold millions of Chromecasts, and consistently outsell all other streaming devices combined at retail locations. Usage has increased by 40% since 2013. Most of YouTube’s TV-based views come from Chromecast.” There’s a new webpage, chromecast.com/apps , which will tell you which apps support it. Now anybody can cast to your TV without needing to be on your Wi-Fi network, making it more social than before but this is an opt-in feature, so you always have control over who can cast to your TV.
Chromecast will do stuff when you’re not watching TV. It’s called Backdrop. It lets you select a feed of photos, including your own, to the stack of pictures shown on an idle TV. As expected it only shows you albums from Google+. You can also get satellite photos, news, weather, and art photos.
Finally you’ll be able to mirror your Android device to your TV. There’s just a “Cast screen” button. “We built our own protocol to reduce latency and frame drops.” You can mirror anything, including the camera app. Samsung, Nexus, HTC, and LG will support it.