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Google I/O 2014: Android TV finally gets official

Android TV

Google finally makes Android TV official, months after it was initially leaked

It hardly came as a surprise, but Google dedicated a significant part of its I/O keynote speech to officially reveal Android TV, the new big screen version of Android designed specifically for TVs, set-top boxes and media players. Originally leaked by The Verge back in April, Google confirmed that Android TV was designed from the ground up with streaming services, on-demand content and casting media from a smartphone in mind.

Android TV uses the same Material Design layout as Android L, and will run alongside the next version of Google’s mobile OS. Apps will share the same design across mobile, tablet and TV, with Play Movies looking very similar on the big screen compared to a Nexus tablet. The interface can be navigated completely using just a D pad and voice input, meaning there won’t be any need for a dedicated remote control; your Android smartphone or Android Wear smartwatch can take control of the system.

Android TV

The home screen, which is comprised of many times, is overlaid on top of the currently playing channel, and is fully searchable using voice commands. Google KnowledgeGraph compatibility means you can ask isoteric questions like “who played Katniss in the Hunger Games” to pull up films starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Google Play Games is also included, meaning you can play Android games on the big screen using a smartphone or dedciated gaming controller. There will be a dedicated Android TV store for apps, and with hardware support from Intel and Marvell most devices should be capable of playing gorgeous-looking mobile games at Full HD resolutions.

Android TV

Android TV includes full casting support and can be used just like a Chromecast, but rather than replace the dongle (which is doing phenomenally well for the company) it will instead focus on high-end devices like TVs. Sharp Sony and Philips/TP Vision have committed to Android TV for their respective 2015 TV line-ups, which hopefully means it will be off to a better start than the ill-fated Google TV back in 2010. 

Developers will soon be able to access the tools needed to start coding for Android TV from, but don’t expect to be able to buy one until the end of the year at the earliest.

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