At its I/O conference today, Google announced its long-rumored Android TV, as the company once again attempts to make its products relevant in the living room, after the spectacular failure of its Google TV platform. Google is at pains to stress that Android TV "isn't a new platform", adding: "We're simply giving TVs the same level of attention that phones and tablets have traditionally enjoyed."
Navigating through Android TV requires "just a D-pad and voice input", which can either be incorporated as a remote control from the television manufacturer, a game controller, or a 'virtual controller' on a phone or tablet, via an Android TV app. Android Wear devices, such as smartwatches can also be used for interaction.
The main 'home' view is an overlay on top of live TV, and gives a 'super view' of suggested content, along with access to content on demand via Google Play or third-party apps such as Netflix or Plex. Google says that the launcher provides the easy-to-use 'lean-back experience' that viewers would expect on a TV.
Search is powered by voice, and brings up not just audio and video results, but further results that can be interrogated, such as actor bios or movie awards. You can also search for something like "movies that won Oscars last year", and you will be presented with a set of appropriate results, ready to watch.
Gaming is also a feature on Android TV, including support for multiplayer games, for example with one person playing on a tablet, and the other playing on the TV with a 'traditional' controller. Googlecast support is also included, allowing users to stream content from any compatible Android device to the TV.
Android TV sets are on the way from Sony, Sharp and TP Vision/Philips. LG U+, Bouygues Telecom and SFR will also support it, and streaming IPTV boxes with Android TV will be coming this fall from ASUS, Razr and others.
Images captured from Google I/O live stream