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Android TV: Top Features of Google's New Entertainment Box

Android TV: Top Features of Google's New Entertainment Box

Android TV is Google's attempt, yet again, to enter our homes. The main features of Android TV include support for Android apps, games, and video resume functionality. Go through this Techspirited article to know more.
Anand Karwa
The World and The Smart TVs
Smart TVs have been around for many years, but they failed to capture the market like they were supposed to. Thankfully, a new breed of smart TVs (like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV) is on the rise. It can transform any standard TV into a smart TV, and thus, transform the whole TV watching experience.

Android TV was announced at the Google I/O 2014 Keynote. After the huge failure of Google TV, which was released back in 2010, Android TV is Google's renewed shot at the concept of a smart TV. However, this time around, Google is not emphasizing about its computing prowess. They have realized their mistake of putting too much smartphone features into Google TV, and as a result, Android TV has a simple interface.

In the past, many manufacturers have tried to redesign the plain old dumb TV, which they shouldn't have, and failed horribly. Their interfaces were not only lackluster, but were also not very user-friendly.

What is Android TV?
Unlike Google TV and Chromecast, which are hardware products from Google Inc, Android TV is a software platform based on Android L OS. Google's Dave Burke explicitly mentioned that Android TV is not a new platform. It is based on Android SDK for all form factors, meaning that, developers won't have to start from scratch while designing apps for Android TV. They just have to optimize their current tablet/smartphone apps to exploit the full potential of Android TV.

Android TV Launcher
The GUI of the Android TV is very Android-ish. It is smooth, functional, and fast. When you switch on your Android TV, you will be greeted with a Windows 8-like start screen. It obviously doesn't have metro UI or anything similar, but you get the point. The launcher will show your apps just below the recommendations of apps, games, and content. The recommendations at the moment, are based on what and how you use apps on your Android TV.

You can navigate through the Android TV interface using a D-pad, a remote, your Android smartphone, or an Android Wear watch. The user can look for content on Android TV using voice search too. The search results are presented in the form of Cards, similar to what we see in Google Now.

Features of Android TV
Seamless Video Support: You can watch movies, videos, and your favorite TV shows from Play Store, YouTube, Netflix, and many other services, directly on your TV.

Android Apps: At the moment, Android TV supports a few apps like Netflix, iHeartRadio, Plex, Hangouts, YouTube, Play Movies, etc. Hundreds of apps are likely to be supported by the time it is launched for the masses.

Gaming: Android TV is not just a regular television, it is an entertainment center. You will be able to enjoy your favorite Android games on your TV using your smartphone, or a tablet, as a controller. It also supports split-screen gaming―one person will play the game on the TV and, the other on an Android tablet/smartphone. Google Play Games is also available to make playing online multiplayer games possible, and earn achievements.

Supports Video Resume Functionality: Support for video resume is one of the highly coveted features of any video watching service. And guess what? It is supported by Android TV. You can resume the movie that you were watching on your phone/tablet, when you turn on your TV, and vice-versa.

Supports Google Cast: It can also act like Chromecast, thus enabling you to cast the contents of any Google Cast supported app to your TV.

When are Android TVs Coming?
Sony, Sharp, Philips, and TPVision will launch their next range of smart televisions, based on Android TV platform by 2015. If you want to enjoy Android TV before that, and do not plan to buy a new TV, then keep a lookout for set-top boxes/consoles coming this fall from Asus, Razer, and other manufacturers.

What's the Asking Price?
There is no official word, neither from Google nor its hardware partners, regarding the price tag of the set-top boxes, but we expect it to be something close to what Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV cost―something in the ballpark of USD 100.

Android TV offers much more than a USD 35 Chromecast, and if launched at a competitive price, holds the potential to take smart TVs to an entirely new level. Only future and other competitors will decide the fate of Android TV. So, let's wait and watch.