Google Eyes New Set Top Box
April 9, 2014

Google Reportedly Working On Android TV Set Top Box

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Google wants a bigger piece of the living room. The Mountain View company is reportedly working on Android TV, a set top box that will provide streaming television from the Internet and over the top (OTT) services such as Netflix, Hulu and Pandora. While Google has yet to announce Android TV, developers are reportedly already working on apps for the new hardware, according to The Verge's Sean Hollister and based on documents obtained by the publication.

The set top box will take things a step farther for Google than its Chromecast. Android TV will serve as the hardware to bring streaming content to the TV. "Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform," writes Google, quoted from documents obtained by Hollister. "It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction." It will be "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast."

Google has some competition. Earlier this month announced its Amazon Fire TV. Amazon Fire TV is a set top box that brings video content from Amazon Prime Instant Video and other OTT services to the TV. Fire TV was made immediately available for $99. Apple is also reportedly working on a set top box beyond its Apple TV. The company reportedly has a deal in the works with Comcast to provide better quality to the streamed content.

In addition to content from OTT providers like Netflix and Hulu, Google is working with developers to create apps that are extremely simple to use via a TV interface.

Android will power the device. "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," wrote Hollister.

Google's vision for Android TV is to simplify the experience, and minimize the steps to viewing content to three clicks or gestures from the home screen to playing content. Gestures could also include voice commands, GameSpot's Martin Gaston reports.

The forthcoming set top box may promise more than just video content. The specs obtained by Hollister include information on an optional game controller, which means that it will be possible to play games from the box. It is not known whether the games would be Android-based or the more robust video games such as those developed for console systems such as the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. The Amazon Fire TV also has an optional controller, and offers access to video game content from various game developers.

Sample images shown in the documents obtained by The Verge include game titles such as Triple Town, Asphalt 8, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Temple Run and Where's My Water? Those titles are primarily games with Android versions, however they may be placeholder titles to serve as an example.