At Google I/O today, the big surprise was that Google Android TV is coming soon, the long awaited replacement for Google TV.
While Google TV may have fallen short of their dream of dominating your living room, the Chromecast became hugely popular since its release last year. Google took the lessons learned from both these devices and went to work developing android TV. As a side note, notice the lack of capitalization in the android tv brand. The Windows phone may not have been a success, but it looks like their fonts and design was a hit with the folks at Google.
The interface looks similar to many set-top boxes and video game consoles, offering a scrolling view of movies and TV shows. The main advantage to android TV over similar devices is the (obvious) inclusion of Google Search. Users can search by voice commands from their Android phone by installing the free app. UPDATE: The app is now available on the Google Play store!
YouTube will be featured heavily, but the developer preview showed apps from Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and many others. Unlike the Chromecast launch, it seems Google Android TV will have plenty of apps available at launch time.
The android TV displayed at the Google I/O was a developer preview in a basic black box, looking very similar to the Amazon Fire TV. Because of the added focus of casual gaming, a game controller is included. If you’re comfortable with the Xbox 360\One controller, the new android TV controller will fit like a glove.
TVs from Sony, Sharp and TPVision have signed on as launch partners, but expect more manufacturers to sign on in the coming months. Razer and Asus have also announced set-top boxes to connect to any television. The first android TV powered televisions and devices should hit the market in time for the holidays this year with many more coming in 2015.