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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The device was originally planned to launch at Google I/O this year, but that obviously did not happen. At this point, it’s unclear whether the stand-alone set-top box is still planned to launch, or if Google has scrapped it in favor of the Chromecast.