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

Google prepares for living-room push as 4k support added to Android 4.3

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Google is clearly serious about its intentions to make a sizeable push into the living-room market, as Android Police spotted a small clue revealing that Android 4.3 has added support for 4k displays.

Google has added a new DPI category to Android: XXXHDPI. This is for screens with an approximate DPI of six hundred and forty. Did you think we were stopping at 1080p?

Android engineer Dianne Hackborn is quoted as confirming the intent behind this:

A typical use of this density would be 4K television screens — 3840×2160 …  Read more

Google reportedly working on new Android-powered set-top box with motion sensor and video camera

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Hot on the heels of the Chromecast being announced yesterday, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Google is planning yet another entry into the living room market. The publication says that Google has been secretly working on an Android-powered set-top box, similar to the Roku and Apple TV. Googler Andy Rubin allegedly showed the device off at CES 2013 earlier this year, highlighting the Android operating system and video-chatting via Hangouts feature. In addition to the camera, the device also had a motion sensor similar to Microsoft’s Kinect.

We reported earlier this year that Google was in talks with cable companies for a new service for internet TV streaming, so it’s possible that the two rumors are related.

While similar to the Chromecast, this set-top box is supposedly much more independent and does not require another device to power it. The device will be able to run a plethora of Android apps, including Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and the Play Store.

The people briefed on Google’s plans said the set-top box Google showed off in January had a broader set of features. One of these people said the device allowed people to stream YouTube videos, watch TV shows or movies from the Google Play digital-programming store, and access Android apps such as videogames or, potentially, digital media services such as Netflix and Pandora.

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Google Cast extension now available for Chrome

At its breakfast event this morning, Google officially confirmed the Chromecast, which is a device that lets you “cast” content from your computer, smartphone, and tablet to your big screen TV. While most people don’t have their hands on the device yet, Google has just released the official Cast extension for Chrome.

The Google Cast extension enables you to find and play content on your Chromecast device from your Chrome browser. When on Cast optimized sites like YouTube and Netflix, you’ll see new options that let you play video on your TV via Chromecast – using your computer as a remote to browse for videos and to control playback. You can also cast any of your tabs in Chrome to your TV, letting you enjoy sites, photos, or even video from the best screen in your home.

The Chromecast itself is available from a variety of retailers, including Best Buy and Amazon.

Google accused of “coercive sales tactics” over Google TV – unnamed manufacturer

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Google has been accused of using “coercive sales tactics” in an attempt to pressure Smart TV manufacturers to adopt its own Google TV platform for YouTube rather than HTML5 based approaches, reports Korean news site ETNews.

Smart TV operators who opted for open-source HTML5 in order to avoid dependance on Google, have bumped into an obstacle – YouTube [...] According to industry insiders, Google has demanded HTML5-based Smart TV operators should place the YouTube app on the main homepage and pass browser conformity tests [which] take up to several months.

An industry insider said “Telling us where the YouTube app should be placed is an act of coercive sales tactics.”
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Google adds Redbox Instant by Verizon app to Google TV

We haven’t been getting a lot of updates on the Google TV front lately, but today Google made an announcement on its blog that the Redbox Instant by Verizon movie streaming subscription service is coming to Google TV.

The app delivers the full Redbox Instant by Verizon experience right to your living room. This includes access to your subscription disc and streaming package, and ability to purchase and rent the latest new releases from the Redbox Instant store.

On top of streaming, purchases and rentals, the Redbox app for Google TV will also allow users to reserve a disc for local pickup.

The service will initially be rolling out to select devices including: the 47G2 and 55G2 Google TV-enabled Smart TVs from LG, NETGEAR’s NeoTV Prime with Google TV, the Sony Internet Player NSZ-GS7, and the Vizio Co-Star.

The Redbox Instant by Verizon app for Google TV is available on Google Play now. Google TV users can sign up for the service now through the app on their device or on the web hereRead more

Amazon reportedly plans to get into the set-top-box game this fall

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Following in the footsteps of Apple and Google attempts at the set-top-box market, Amazon is planning to release a set-top-box, according to Bloomberg

They say the box will plug into TVs and give users access to Amazon’s expanding video offerings. Those include its a la carte Video on Demand store, which features newer films and TV shows, and its Instant Video service, which is free for subscribers to the Amazon Prime two-day shipping package. The Amazon set-top box will compete with similar products like the Roku, Apple TV and the Boxee Cloud DVR, along with more versatile devices like the Playstation 3 and the Xbox. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.

The device is reportedly being developed in Amazon’s Cupertino based labs and could launch this fall. The project is reportedly being spearheaded by a former Apple and Cisco employee:

The project is being run by Malachy Moynihan, a former vice president of emerging video products at Cisco (CSCO) who worked on the networking company’s various consumer video initiatives. Moynihan also spent nine years at Apple (AAPL) during the 1980s and 1990s.

Perhaps this future product is the reason that Apple and Amazon have no deal for Amazon content streaming on the Apple TV.

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