Following last year’s home run with the Chromecast, Google is taking Android into the living room with Android TV. Not to be confused with Google TV, Android TV is a version of Android designed to easily use the TV with an emphasis on search and gaming. Not only can Android TV be built right into the TV itself, but it can also come through set-top boxes.
Android TV takes full advantage of the huge screen that’s available with a TV. Big, beautiful content is front and center, making it viewable from a distance. The experience is simple and smooth, and navigation can be controlled either by voice or by a connected device such as a smartphone, smartwatch, or laptop. Content is the highlight, with partners in big names like Netflix and Hulu as well as Google’s own services, allowing for tons of movies, TV shows, and music to be available through Android TV.
Search is a key part of Android TV with the search being intuitive. One can simply say the name of a TV show to have it pop up with options for watching; as well as the cast, similar shows, and more. But search is bigger than that, by allowing you give a query such as, “Oscar nominated movies from 1995″ and Android TV will immediately bring up an entire list with watching options.
Google Play Games is coming to Android TV, allowing you to game with your device on the big screen. Android TV devices will come with a controller for better gaming performance and the demos at the keynote have been impressive.
Partnerships with manufacturers like Sony and Sharp have been announced to help design TVs with Android TV built in. Razer and ASUS were both announced as partners currently working to create set-top boxes primarily for gaming, increased by the new graphics abilities in Android L.
The Chromecast hasn’t been left out, with some new features coming. The first is Backdrop, that allows your TV to basically act as a giant screensaver that can display high-quality photos, pieces of art, or things like the weather and news. Next up is the fact that devices not connected to your Wi-Fi network can still connect to your Chromecast, allowing your friends to quickly throw things up from their devices.
The final feature of the Chromecast is the biggest and that’s the fact that you can now mirror your Android phone or tablet to the Chromecast in real time. Google developed an entirely new protocol to reduce the latency enough to make it so that the delay is nearly unnoticeable. This allows you to use your Chromecast, and in turn your TV, as a wireless display for your phone or tablet, allowing for more immersive content. Not all devices are supported yet, but more are on the way and most popular Android devices should be supported by the release date.
The new Chromecast features will be rolling out later this summer.