Google today announced a range of initiatives involving everything from in-car communications to the television – all of which had one common theme. Google wants to repeat the strategy that it used successfully with its Android mobile operating system. That means making software platforms available to other manufacturers.
Virtually all of the initiatives that Google announced at its developers’ conference today involve the company’s Android platform and will extend Android functionality beyond the mobile market, respectively.
Android TV aims to simplify TV viewing in an increasingly complicated environment that includes a range of content sources. People can use voice control, an Android TV smartphone app or a television or game console remote control to search for content or to interact with a recommendation engine that pulls content from a wide range of sources.
Android TV is the type of offering commonly thought of as a “platform.” But according to Google Director of Android Engineering Dave Burke, “Android TV is not a new platform and that’s kind of the point.”
Burke made his comments today at the Google developers’ meeting, which was a webcast as well as a live event. Developers now will be able to create applications for Android TV that will enable the applications to work with a wide range of Web TV platforms, eliminating the need to develop multiple versions of an offering, he said.
Burke demonstrated the voice capabilities of the new offering by asking it to tell him who played Katniss in “The Hunger Games” and to tell him the Oscar nominated movies from 2002.
Television manufacturers that will support Android TV include Sony, Sharp, and Philips. Streaming boxes from Razer and Asus also will support the capability, reports Wired.
According to Wired, there will be Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and other apps for Google TV and these will be available in “a store that opens this fall with the launch of Android TV.”
Google’s previous venture into the television market, Google TV, was launched back in 2010 but has not had much success. Android TV appears simpler to use and, depending on pricing, could be more successful.
Android also is updating its Chromecast device that lets end users move online video, music and other web content to the TV. One key feature gives a user the ability to let friends and relatives shift content from their own mobile devices to the television without logging on to the user’s WiFi network.
Chromecast also will gain the ability to display what Google calls a “backdrop” on the television during the 19 hours out of the day that a typical household is not using it, the company said. Users can select geospatial images, artwork from museums or other types of images and will see a variety of images from the category displayed sequentially on the screen. Alternatively users can use the capability to display their own photos.
Google will partner with a range of auto manufacturers to offer Android Auto, which consists of special steering wheel controls and a display screen, to which users can connect their Android smartphones. Using Android Auto, users will be able to play music available on their Android devices and use voice commands to send text messages to contacts stored on their wireless device. They will also be able to have messages read to them and will be able to obtain audible driving directions.
Google execs displayed a list of a dozen or so auto manufacturers that are participating in what Google is calling the “Open Automotive Alliance.” Companies on the list included Jeep, Acura, Hyundai, Honda, at least one General Motors division – Chevrolet — and others. Apparently this means that these companies will offer Android Auto
Google’s Chromebook also will be integrated more closely with Android devices, the company said today. For example, a user will automatically be signed in on his or her Chromebook when his or her Android smartphone is located nearby.