Android TV screenshots reportedly leak, show off simplified card-based interface

For years now companies have been claiming to that they make the perfect set-top box, with Amazon being the most recent to do so with its FireTV. Notably missing from this arm’s race, however, has been Google. The company was one of the first to offer a set-top box OS with Google TV, but the idea quickly failed and was never widely adopted. Over the past year, reports have started to emerge claiming that Google is plaining a reentrance into the set-top box market with an Android-powered set-top box. The Verge has now published an extensive report on Android TV, with screenshots of the actual interface and much more.

The report, which cites internal Google documents, claims that the idea is far along in development with major app providers already building for the platform as we speak. While Google TV was also based off of Android, this new revision is entirely rebuilt and is something very different. “Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform,” writes Google. “It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction.” It will be “cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast.”

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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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Sony’s TV stick offers full Google TV functionality, but only with this year’s Sony TVs

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The Sony TV device spotted in an FCC filing last month was briefly unveiled by Sony in a blog post that has since been deleted. Engadget spotted the post for the Sony Bravia Smart Stick before it was pulled.

It’s an MHL dongle that runs both Google TV and Sony’s own BRAVIA apps. The features are just like Google TV boxes Sony has released before, with a remote (that the FCC filings showed is at least similar to the previous ones) that has QWERTY and voice search support. Additionally, its “picture-and-picture” feature lets users see a browser in one window and TV in another …  Read more

Google ready to raise its TV profile by spending $1B+ on NFL streaming deal?

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AllThingsD reports that Google may be in discussions with NFL to buy the rights to the Sunday Ticket package when DirectTV’s contract runs out at the end of the 2014 season.

Today, according to sources, Google CEO Larry Page, along with YouTube content boss Robert Kyncl, met with a delegation from the NFL led by commissioner Roger Goodell. And the Sunday Ticket package was among the topics of discussion, according to people familiar with the meeting …  Read more

Now you don’t even need to spend 35 bucks to start Chromecasting …

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We thought $35 was pretty cheap for Chromecast, but if you don’t even want to lay out that much (or, more likely, can’t get your hands on one at the moment), there’s an app for that.

XDAdevelopers (via Phandroid) pointed us to CheapCast, a free app in the Play Store that enables any Android device to emulate a Chromecast stick. Install it in two devices, one of which could be an Android TV or OUYA, and you can broadcast from one to the other. Don’t, however, expect full functionality at this stage …  Read more

Chromecast already rooted, revealed to be running software closer to Google TV than Chrome OS

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Just a few days after its announcement, Google’s new Chromecast stick has already been rooted. The rooting process, as detailed by GTV Hacker, is similar to almost every Android phone. During the announcement last week, Google said that the Chromecast was powered by Chrome OS, but GTV Hacker has found something different.

The blog says that after rooting and doing a little digging around within the software, it looks like the Chromecast is running software closer to Android or Google TV, not Chrome OS as Google implied. While this doesn’t mean all that much for the end user, it does leave the door open for an eventual port of the full Google TV operating to the tiny HDMI stick or the ability to install standalone apps at some point.

We had a lot of internal discussion on this, and have concluded that it’s more Android than ChromeOS. To be specific, it’s actually a modified Google TV release, but with all of the Bionic / Dalvik stripped out and replaced with a single binary for Chromecast. Since the Marvell DE3005 SOC running this is a single core variant of the 88DE3100, most of the Google TV code was reused. So, although it’s not going to let you install an APK or anything, its origins: the bootloader, kernel, init scripts, binaries, are all from the Google TV.

We are not ruling out the ability for this to become a Google TV “stick”.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google has been working on an Android-powered set-top box, so it’s possible that it the device may be some sort of advanced variation of the Chromecast.  Read more