- Published on Monday, 14 July 2014 10:11
- Written by Rakesh Kumar A/l Premakumaran
For smartphone users, Android phones do not necessarily have to ring a bell; it is something that you should be aware of and are already familiar to. But the providers of the Android solution are always trying to be ahead of, say, iOS (mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc.) or anything by Microsoft. Competition on this particular market is growing; which means a great moment for consumers like us. But how many of us are aware of the innovation on broadcasting: i.e.; television with Android based solutions and content?
Through the announcement on the arrival of Android TV and Google, the market response has been mostly on attempts at cracking the highly lucrative TV space. Android TV will either come inside set-top boxes – a la Apple TV and Amazon's Fire TV – or inside HDTVs themselves.
If you have been following the news on technological frontier, multiple sources may have confirmed the possible launch, and Android TV is here. The software will run in set-top boxes and inside HDTVs. Google aims to battle with similar offerings from Amazon, Apple and Roku. HDTV sales are on a downward trajectory but devices that plug into them – things like Google’s Chromecast, Apple TV and the Roku 3 – are very much on the up. And this is why Google released Android TV.
Android TV also features Cast abilities, meaning users can search for stuff on the mobile device and fling it across to their HDTVs. Users will be able to control the box using Android smartphones or tablets as well as “wearables” like LG's G Watch. Voice control is built-in, meaning users can ask questions – “who plays Walter White in Breaking Bad?” – and browse content that way.
“This isn't a new platform, that's kind of the point," said Google. "We're just giving TV the same attention that phones and tablets have got."
Google will follow a similar approach to how it operates in the smartphone and tablet space, providing the software to key hardware partners. Google’s no stranger to the TV space, however, having released a trio of initiatives – Google TV, the Nexus Q and Google Chromecast – aimed at securing it a foothold in the lucrative TV & Living Room space during the past few years.
Android TV Content
It’s a TV service after all, so content is going to play a large part in whether Android TV sinks or swims. Out of the box you have support for broadcasting providers like Netflix, YouTube, TED and Google Play movies, where you can rent or buy titles like The Hobbit, Batman Begins and The LEGO Movie.
“Google Cast comes built-in so you can cast movies and shows from your phone or tablet to your TV. Your streaming content also syncs with your tablet in case you want to finish your movie in bed later.”
Android TV has a sort of Xbox One-style homescreen, and on here is where you’ll get personalised recommendations based on your viewing habits. So if you watched Superman, Android TV might recommend you check out The Dark Knight Rises, for instance.
Nevertheless, third party content providers – say, Netflix – aren’t required to opt into Android TV’s recommendations, however, so it could be that you only get recommendations within Google Play content. Indeed, early report suggests thus far Netflix is showing no signs of implementing the feature within its Android TV app, which isn’t exactly great news for the concept.
It’s also unclear whether Google will be getting support from big industry players like HBO, Sky, the BBC and Hulu. Google did not mention any at launch, although it is perhaps too early to start fretting about app support aboard a brand new platform. Chromecast took awhile to find its feet, but that little dongle now has quite a raft of supported partners.
Android TV UI
Talking with an IT portal online (arstechnica.com), Google engineering director David Burke revealed that Google is taking a morehands-on approach to UI and design. According to Burke, Google will be in control of how Android TV looks – not the OEMs.
“We want to just have a very consistent user experience, so if you have one TV in one room and another TV in another room and they both say Android TV, we want them to work the same and look the same.”
Google will handle the software updates, too. Burke likened this new approach to how the company runs its Chrome OS, where updates are done quietly and quickly in the background. The idea is to make Android TV a more efficient and more uniform looking.
Android TV Release Date
The first batch of Android TV-powered set-top boxes is set to appear towards the end of the summer – late Q3, early-Q4 (Malaysian date of release is not confirmed at the time of this writing). The first products are likely to be set-top boxes. Google is running Android TV in a similar fashion to its Android phone OS; it provides OEMS with the software and they build hardware around it.
Sony and Sharp confirmed at launch they would be bringing bespoke HDTVs with Android TV built directly inside them during Q1 2015.
As usual, there seemed to be scent of both skepticism and optimism when it comes to consumerism when the Android TV is concerned.
When contacted by Malaysian Digest, Jasbir Singh, Manager of Communications Monash University says; “I think that's the future. The latest major piece of the great IT convergence. In my humble opinion, there's also the home and the body. Both of which are growing."
According to Singh, wearable technology (home), combined with better data management (body) can revolutionize healthcare especially. A noble outcome indeed.
On the other hand, Ashwin Vinodh Raman, a US based Malaysian business journalist, said that there are so many offering the same thing; but this doesn't seem very different from Amazon or Apple TV. “I guess it will come down to price as well as content. Whoever has more content, especially original content, will thrive. Amazon has some whole Netflix has done well since House of Cards (TV Series). If Google has a familiar offering or access to all these shows, it could do well,” he said.
Gopal Nair, founder of online marketing and branding site, VanityShack.com has a trifle revisionist view, “I think it is all about value for money and equal access to legitimate content,” he noted “Furthermore, in a closed economy such as ours, issues such as internal market regulation, anti-trust and competition: monopolies and abuse of dominant position; discriminatory pricing, competitive bottlenecks for content distribution are factors that cannot be brushed aside. Eventually, this will have an impact on our rights as consumers, particularly access to our personal data.”
For more on Android TV, check out the following sources: