Google I/O 2015 Preview: We’re doubling down on Android M, Chrome, Wear and more

Stephen and I are off to Google I/O 2015 this week (the first time we’ve sent 2 people – for double the coverage!) but we wanted to preview what we we’re excited about this week. I’d run through the list of expectations but Chance already made 90% of the list when the sessions were launched. Go check it out. Here’s what I’ve been hearing… Read more

Sling comes to Android TV, offers half off Nexus Players for new subscribers

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Streaming televison site Sling announced today that it has launched an Android TV application, allowing users on a new set of devices to subscribe to the service and watch TV shows from a variety of networks. To help put more Sling-capable devices in users’ hands, Sling is offering a special price on the Nexus Player.

Those who pre-pay for three months of Sling TV will be able to get Google’s Nexus Player for half off the regular price, bringing the cost closer to $50. To claim the offer, users just need to sign up for a three-month subscription through the Sling website and select the Nexus Player deal.

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What we expect to see from Google in 2015

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It has been a pretty exciting year for Google in a lot of ways. Android Wear has started to ignite excitement behind the future of wearable technology, the best version of Android ever—dubbed Lollipop—was released, a couple of brand new Nexus devices (one of which we leaked) came to fruition, and the Mountain View corporation’s new Material Design language has taken the Play Store by storm. Everything that was already great was made better in 2014, and the company has been sprinkling a bunch of exciting innovations in along the way to keep things interesting—like the self-driving car, for example.

In 2015, Google is probably going to do much the same. Android “M” (milkshake, maybe?) will likely be unveiled at Google I/O this upcoming summer, we’ll probably see a round of new Nexus hardware come later in the year, Google will likely keep pushing Chromebooks in the affordable segment of the PC market, and Android Wear devices from countless manufacturers will continue to get thinner and have better and better battery life. But Google surely has some drastic innovation planned in a variety of areas, as well, with the potential return of Google Glass on the horizon and the second spiral of Project Ara to be unveiled in a couple of weeks.

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Chromecast cruises by Apple TV and nears Roku in latest home streaming market share numbers

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Google’s diminutive and cheap Chromecast is making strong headway against its competitors according to a report today by Parks Associates. Priced at $35 but now going for just over $20, the dongle, which is controlled by Apps on iOS and Android devices rather than a traditional remote has passed the almost forgotten Apple TV and is closing in on the king of streamers, the Roku.  Roku and AppleTV represented two thirds of the market last year but with entrants like Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV/Stick, the two dropped to around half the market.

The research finds Roku is still the leading brand with 29% of sales, but Google Chromecast (20%) has supplanted Apple TV (17%) in second place. New entrant Amazon Fire TV is in fourth place with 10%. Consumer content choices are also increasing, with Showtime and Sony planning to launch their own OTT video services to compete with Netflix and HBO.

“Nearly 50% of video content that U.S. consumers watch on a TV set is non-linear, up from 38% in 2010, and it is already the majority for people 18-44,” said Barbara Kraus, Director, Research, Parks Associates. “The market is changing rapidly to account for these new digital media habits. Roku now offers a streaming stick, and Amazon’s Fire TV streaming stick leaves Apple as the only top player without a stick product in the streaming media device category.”

Sticks are where it is at it would seem. Conversely, Google’s Nexus Player, introduced in October, has yet to make a blip but it might also show up in results next year.

Google to unveil at least one Android TV-powered set-top box during Google I/O

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Earlier today, Bloomberg published a profile of Android head Sundar Pichai in which it was stated that Google has several Android TV announcements slated for its I/O developer conference tomorrow. The WSJ has now published another report corroborating the earlier profile. According to the report, Google on Wednesday will unveil at least one “small set-top box” running its new Android TV operating system.

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Aereo terrestrial streaming TV coming to Chromecast May 29th unless Supreme Court blocks it

aereoAereo CEO Chet Kanojia announced today that Aereo users will be able to watch and record live television using Google’s Chromecast starting on May 29th. Aereo users, who can already watch live broadcast television over their phone, computer, tablet, or connected TV for $8/month, are anxiously awaiting a Supreme Court decision that would verify whether or not the service is legal.

In the meantime, Aereo users are able to stream local airwave content over IP to their computers and mobile devices.

With the addition of Chromecast, users will have a new way to watch Aereo on their television, through the Aereo app for Android. While it wasn’t announced, the iOS app could also add Chromecast support at a later time.

It isn’t certain why you’d pay $8/month for access to the same channels on your HDTV that you can pull in with a $22 antenna but those who are already paying for the service will find the added feature beneficial. The DVR functions could also serve beneficial.

Press release follows: Read more

Opinion: Will the spring launch of Amazon/Nexus/Apple TV signal the beginning of the end of live, broadcast TV?

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Streaming TV is heating-up. Amazon looks set to launch its TV box in March, we’re expecting Apple to announce a new Apple TV box in April, and Google is reputed to be not far behind with a Nexus-branded box.

So-called cord-cutting – people who give up their cable TV subscriptions in favor of streaming content over the web – is growing in popularity. Mobile TV viewing on tablets is increasingly common.

All of which makes me wonder whether we’re witnessing the beginning of the end of live TV … ?  Read more

Amazon’s long-rumored Roku-like TV box to launch next month?

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Image: digitaltrends.com

Amazon’s TV box, which the company is believed to have been working on for around a year, is to be launched next month, according to unnamed content distribution sources cited by re/code. It had originally been expected to be launched in time for last year’s holiday sales.

People I’ve talked to who are partnering with Amazon believe the company is aiming for a March rollout […]

Sources tell me Amazon’s box will be powered by Google’s Android operating system, which is also not a surprise — Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets use a “forked” version of Android …  Read more

Hisense announces new Pulse Pro set-top box running Android TV

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Although Google TV has not been the company’s most successful venture by any means, that hasn’t stopped several other companies from trying-out the concept. At CES 2014, Hisense is showing off its new set top box, the Pulse Pro. From the outside, it looks very similar to any other set-top box, but what’s interesting is that it’s running what Hisense calls “Android TV v4.” It’s not technically Google TV, although it’s built off of the same foundation. It is capable of running Google TV apps and also features the same PrimeTime Guide (via CNET).

One noticeable difference between the Pulse Pro and other Google TV devices is the home screen design. Everything is laid out in a very image-focused design, with the ability to quickly access Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Video, and more.

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Google adds an additional 13 markets for Google Play Movies

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Residents of New Zealand, Hong Kong, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago take note as Google Play Movies are now at your disposal. In total, Google added an additional thirteen countries bringing the total available market count to 27. This is the right time for residents of those countries to grab a Chromecast, kick their legs up on the sofa and watch a movie. Unfortunately, TV shows are still only available through the US, UK and Japan with no timetable for additional countries.

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Google reportedly gearing up to launch Android-powered ‘Nexus TV’ set-top box

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For the past few months, rumors have been swirling that another living room device will soon be released by Google. In July, the Wall Street Journal reported on a device with a motion sensor and video camera, while GigaOM reported in October that Google was planning to drop the Google TV branding in favor of “Android TV.” This time around, The Information’s Amir Efrati reports that Google is planning to release a “Nexus TV” set-top box that will run Android.

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