Google has long been rumored to replace Google TV with Android TV, a new crack at the home media market with more roots in its mobile OS and less of a separate focus, but a new report from GigaOM today suggests we’ll see it very soon; in fact, it’s apparently set to make its debut at the I/O developer conference taking place at the end of this month.
The Android TV platform isn’t a specific piece of hardware, GigaOM reports, but is instead a software effort that will work with gadgets from OEM partners including LG and others. The Android TV platform will focus on bringing online media services to televisions, the report claims, as well as Android-based gaming, at least initially, rather than concentrate on the ‘apps for TV’ angle that it espoused with Google TV.
Android TV sounds like it could have similar goals in mind to Amazon’s Fire TV; namely, it aims to be a single source platform for media regardless of the service where it’s found. A new UI layer called “Pano” internally is the core of the product, says GigaOM, and it presents show episodes and movies in a card-style interface right away when an Android TV device is launched. This means that content is foregrounded, rather than apps, so that users can get watching immediately instead of having to select a service first. The idea seems to be that service providers take a back seat to the actual content they house, which makes sense, given that those shows and movies are what consumers are after to begin with.
The gaming focus is also something that Google’s Android TV effort would share with Amazon’s approach, if this report is accurate. Overall, it really seems like Google is building an approach to television that incorporates the same kinds of lessons that Android itself said it learned about the current crop of smart TVs from users reviews on its site when building its media streamer. And of course, Android TV would extend the reach of the company’s mobile OS, into a medium where it’s easy to imagine the potential for advertising and search-based revenue.
Google has some advantages, including a likely willingness to work with OEMs to build this kind of thing directly into television sets as well as inexpensive Internet-enabled dongles. It’s interesting to see it move away from the app paradigm instead of embracing that, given Android’s software advantage there, but if the failure of smart TV devices to really take off before now indicates anything, it’s that users don’t want their TVs to be giant smartphones – they’re looking for something unique to the medium, and perhaps Android TV is exactly that.