Google building Android set-top box with voice input, apps and games

By , Apr 6, 2014

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In 2011, Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that, “by the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded.” But here it is, 2014, and a quick search of BestBuy.com confirms that the lofty goal never came to fruition.

The company hasn’t given up on the living room though. In fact, according to a report from The Verge, it’s readying a new Android-based set-top right now. The site has obtained screenshots and other documents outing the project, which is apparently named Android TV…

Here’s The Verge’s Sean Hollister with more:

Google’s new vision for Android TV is less ambitious and easier to understand. The company is calling for developers to build extremely simple TV apps for an extremely simple set-top-box interface. While Android still lives under the hood, the interface will consist of a set of scrolling “cards” that represent movies, shows, apps, and games sitting on a shelf. You use a remote control with a four-way directional pad to scroll left and right through different suggestions, or up and down through different categories of content, each with their own shelves. Much like on other set top boxes, each item will be like a miniature movie poster or book cover, and you’ll pick the one you want. The controller will also have Enter, Home, and Back buttons to help get around, and there will be “optional” game controllers.

Hollister goes on to say that Android TV will also support voice input and notifications, and will have the ability to suggest content to you based on your previous selections and watching behaviors. And it being Google, users will have access to a powerful search tool system-wide.

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The timing of this leak is certainly interesting, as the battle for the living room has really heated up in recent months. You have Amazon unveiling its new Fire TV last week, Apple’s rumored to be working on a new box of its own, and Roku’s pounding its chest, yelling to all of them ‘bring it!’

It’s hard to tell how far along Google is on the project, and whether it’s actually building the hardware itself or will be strictly licensing the Android TV platform out to manufacturers. Either way, Apple may want to hurry up and do something with this space before it gets too crowded.

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  • shar

    when the bigger companies decide to go after tv boxes, they usually come up with something with limited functionality/content that develops very slowly.
    I hope google goes beyond what they have done before,
    I would want to be able to run XBMC and play local content on any format (and I don’t mean only, mp4, mkv, etc)
    I would want to run any app (eg voip apps),
    I would want to be able to connect accessories (eg keybaord, camera, gamepads)
    this is currently possible if the full android would be running on those devices, but if past experiences are any indication, their future devices will be more focused on cloud media playback only and it will take them a long time to find developers to create specific apps for those devices.

    • http://facebook.com/kurtlewisart Kurt

      What you want already exists and works very well. Go on youtube and search “mini pc android” you will see small dongles that run full android and the ones that cost 75bucks or more run very smooth. @Rowan09 has one so many he will drop in and give his thoughts?

      • Rowan09

        Yes I do, I have the Rikomagic mini Android PC and it works like a champ. I would not recommend any Android TV not running full Android because it’s extremely limited. I bought a Netgear Prime and returned it the next day. Most of these American made Android TVs are for streaming content from Netflix, Hulu, etc, but will not allow you to install XBMC, showbox, etc. If this new device is like the old Google tv boxes it’s going to be useless. I’m thinking about purchasing a Raspberry PI as well and teach my daughter more about electronics.

      • http://facebook.com/kurtlewisart Kurt

        I want to check it out. Which model number do you have? Is there a video review on YT? I’m more interested in getting an Apple TV if the next version is what I’m hoping for it to be.

      • Rowan09

        Rikomagic MK802 IV, it’s a quad core mini PC. They have reviews on YouTube, but it’s one of only name brand Chinese models.

      • shar

        I know about the android tv boxes, they are perfect for local content and also free online content through xbmc.
        the only problems are,
        1. there are too many of them and few have been properly tested, so it is very difficult to choose.
        2. many of the apps are not fitted for a remote control box. maybe in case of games, voip apps, calendar, email, and many others it doesn’t really matter (you wouldn’t have them in other setup boxes anyways, and you get the functionality), however to use streaming apps like netflix or hulu, a mouse might become necessary, taking away from experience.

        I can’t think of any other problems,
        I hope google can see the potential here and doesn’t mess it up.
        many of their projects fail and are cancelled later on because they did care about what the consumers want and gave out something they though was the right thing.

    • Jason LaBossiere

      You can get the at the android TV website Gotham 13.0 running 4.4.2 kitkat

  • Jeffrey

    wow, google really has to do everything apple did/has planned, android on tv (apple tv), android on watch (iwatch), and soon android in the car (microsoft already announced windows in the car today) etc etc etc… come on guys, think of your own innovations instead of copying the leader of tech!!

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Actually Google hasn’t done Android on a watch (yet) and as for android in the car it exists and doesn’t look as elegant as iOS in the car and mostly focuses on Google Maps and nothing else. Here’s one car with it (there are probably others):

      nissan .co.uk/GB/en/vehicle/crossovers/juke/special-version/n-tec.html#GOOGLEFUNCTIONS

      • Jeffrey

        never heard of android wear? it’s android for watches…

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        No I haven’t heard of it (probably because it only exists as an OS – or is Google secretly developing a watch?) Afaik Google is just too busy playing with glasses to bother making a watch and Android Wear is as you said Android for watches which would have happened with or without Googles interaction…

      • Jeffrey

        Oh yeah i actually neant the os, but android wear is officially from google so it wouldnt have happened without google…

    • Rupinder S

      Apple hasn’t announced anything regarding a watch. So, technically, Apple would be copying google is they were to announce it this year.

      • Rowan09

        It’s not copying by anyone. Making a device someone else makes doesn’t mean your copying.

      • Jeffrey

        No but you can copy unannounced things, and the iwatch rumours started years ago, way before any other big tech company started working on one

      • erod434

        Yea no one was working on it including apple, it was just a rumor at that time and it is just a rumor now. You have 0 facts to back up your statement. Samsung and Pebble already have smart watches on the market. Claiming that they copied off apple because there was a rumored watch is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard.

      • Jeffrey

        lol are you really that stupid? you really think apple isn’t working on an iwatch? they have been working on it for years now… also that’s why i said BIG tech comanies… pebble isn’t big, i know they were the first. also, samsung hasted to create a crappy smartwatch just to be faster than apple when they heard the rumours.

      • erod434

        I think you’re the stupid one to make baseless assumptions that everyone is copying apple off a rumor. I’m not saying that apple isn’t going to make an iwatch. I’m saying that you have no proof that apple was making one years ago besides rumors which have proved wrong until now. So basing the idea that everyone else copied off of apple on a rumor that probably isn’t true is just absurd. If you can show facts that apple is indeed making a smart watch then I can understand, but it has been several years and nothing has come out so those rumors are just that rumors.

      • Jeffrey

        i don’t need proof, the fact that there are lots of rumours floating around about an iwatch is enough confirmation to me. also, rumours don’t come from nothing, the first rumours about the iwatch weren’t made up, apple has been working on an iwatch for years. also, even IF apple didn’t start with making an iwatch before the gear, samsung copied THE IDEA of a watch, just because they were scared of the idea of an iwatch from apple.

      • grumpyfuzz

        You have no proof that the rumors weren’t made up… A rumor doesn’t have to be real you know.

      • Jeffrey

        I know that. But i fldont need proof, i know they were true

  • Jeffrey

    btw, this looks an awfull lot as the xbox one layout

    • http://facebook.com/kurtlewisart Kurt

      Only so many ways to skin a cat

      • Jeffrey

        Well you can say that i guess…

  • Taf Khan

    I’d like to see Games on my ATV also.

    • http://facebook.com/kurtlewisart Kurt

      If they keep the price at 100 and games can be used with a xbox style controller I’ll most likely get one. Otherwise not sure. My PC is hooked up to my tv so it’s not so important but it could be nice!

      • Taf Khan

        To be honest I use my ATV2 for XBMC more than anything else. Most other uses are covered by different devices.

        Would use it for games with controller for sure, keep my young one busy on Papa Pear Saga rather than draining my iPhone battery.

      • Rowan09

        I have an ATV 2 but it’s stuck in recovery for some reason

      • Taf Khan

        I see. Have you tried using Recboot? Easy to use app, one click to fix recovery mode loop. Also try using a different micro USB cable, I’ve known this to make a difference.

        Hope this helps. If you don’t need the ATV2 anymore, feel free to send it my way. :-P

      • Rowan09

        Thank you I’ll definitely try this tonight. Lol.

  • Decio Arruda

    I’ve got just one thing to say: Nexus Q.
    Google thinks they can come back from that failure in less than a year?

    • duck hairs

      They already have. One word chromecast.

      • Decio Arruda

        Yeah, but that’s by no means a set top box. Who thinks Google will put together the best form of entertainment with shows from all networks if not even Apple has done it so far, plus, knowing Google’s take on entertainment as seen by YouTube, they’re going to put ads all over the place.

      • Rowan09

        Chromecast is a horrible device.

      • grumpyfuzz

        Should have said “Chromecast is a horrible device in my opinion.”

      • Rowan09

        It’s coming from me so it does not need to be stated. I own one so I have the right to hate it.

      • grumpyfuzz

        You have the right to hate it, of course, but saying “it is” seems like you’re saying it’s a fact.

      • Rowan09

        No it’s my opinion.

    • D R

      The failure that is was the ‘Q’ was about a year and a half. And don’t forget the failure that was GoogleTV…logitech doesn’t.

  • physicsnerd

    Try out Cubox from SolidRun.