Google is reportedly preparing to announce Android TV at the upcoming 7th annual I/O developers' conference this month in San Francisco, with Netflix and Hulu Plus reported to be involved in the launch.
Android TV, the company's touted replacement for Google TV which was launched in 2010, is not a device. Rather, it is a platform that television and set-top box manufacturers can use to deliver streaming services to consumers.
The difference between Android TV and Google TV is that, in Google TV, the company aimed to partner already existing paid TV services with developed apps. On the other hand, Android TV will initially focus exclusively on online entertainment services and video games based on the Android operating system. It is also expected that it has similar goals to Amazon's Fire TV.
The key element of Android TV is known within Google as Pano. The platform will use Pano for a simple user interface where users can access specific kinds of content in a card-style interface from the home screen. The cards in the interface will be presented horizontally, shown as movies or TV episodes. This means that, once you turn on the Android TV, you can go directly into your desired content, instead of having to go through several apps by content publishers first.
Android TV will build onto the success of Chromecast, which Google released last summer. Chromecast is an inexpensive gadget that allows digital streaming, and has sold millions of units. Chromecast continues to expand its services, adding Rdio, Crackle, Vudu and PlayOn to the device's compatible applications last March and then forming a partnership with Major League Baseball last April for MLB.TV Premium live game streaming.
Chromecast will likely eventually be seen as an entry-level item for Google's entertainment systems, with Android TV completing the experience with its gaming features. The full Android apps that will be offered in Android TV could capture the market of casual video gamers, who do not want to spend tons of cash on a next-generation video gaming console but still want to play high-quality video games on their TV.
Google will also probably announce selected hardware partners that could be releasing Android TV devices as soon as within months of the Android TV's release. The company's willingness to partner up with OEMs could provide a unique product that the entertainment industry has not yet seen.