Google is taking yet another shot at the set-top box industry. Announced today, Android TV is a new software platform with similar functionality to the Chromecast or Apple TV. The platform will be made available on a wide array of 2014 and 2015 4K television models, bringing Android integration into the living room for those investing in the new HDTV platform.
The new software is app-centric, and has the same content "push" functionality as a Chromecast. On the other side, it has the ability to "pull" content from apps in a similar fashion as the Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV set top boxes. The platform launches with the Android L release.
Gaming from Google Play was illustrated as a part of the device, with a game from Google Play featured during the demo. Control is implemented by either a software or hardware-based D-Pad, or voice control with connected smart device. In the case of the demo, the television was controlled by an Android Wear watch.
Partners of the initiative for televisions are Sharp, Sony and TP Vision. Hardware for the interface is being developed by Qualcomm, NVidia, Mediatek, Intel, Broadcom and others.
The Chromecast hasn't been ignored by Google, with the company making a few changes to the HDMI dongle. First, apps will be able to push content to the Chromecast without being connected to the same network. Google then figures out if the host device is nearby automatically using tracking data, or using an onscreen PIN as an alternative.
Chromecast owners will also be able to personalize the standby photo feed on their device from various predefined sources, as well as photos from a user's Google+ photo feed. Screen casting, a feature usable on desktop computers, is also making the transition to Android devices, with the Chromecast mirroring the smartphone or tablet display.