updated 03:19 pm EDT, Sun April 6, 2014
Google TV replacement uses cards, recommends content
Google is preparing to offer an updated form of its Google TV software under the name of Android TV, according to a report. Screenshots of the software, which was previously said to have been rebranded to the new name, have surfaced to show an interface that takes after the company's "card" system in what appears to be a more cohesive user experience.
In documents received by The Verge, Google claims Android TV is an "entertainment interface, not a computing platform," claiming "it's all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount," and that it is "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast."
The new Android TV requires developers to create basic apps for individual services, and to combine with Google's card motif. Movies, TV shows, and apps will appear as cards, with a four-way remote being used to scroll throughout the collection. The remote is said to have not only the directional control, along with Enter, Home, and Back buttons, with game controllers also touted. Voice input is mentioned, though it is unclear if it will take place through the remote itself or through a separate microphone, and though notifications will be usable, Google is apparently dissuading developers from using them except in specific cases.
In a similar way to Google Play, Android TV will offer recommendations on its homescreen, pointing to content within specific apps rather than the apps themselves. "Access to content should be simple and magical," states one document, adding that content should not take more than three clicks or gestures to access from the homescreen.
As for what apps could be offered on the service, one screenshot appears to show the typical Google services, such as the Play store, Play Music, YouTube and Hangouts, alongside other developers. Apps for Hulu, Netflix, Songza, Pandora, and Vevo are seemingly included in the interface, as well as Plants vs Zombies 2, Temple Run, and other games, though it is unclear if the apps are confirmed as available on the software platform.
The timing of the document leak comes just days after Amazon launched its own Android-based set-top box, the Fire TV, which offers a relatively similar set of features to Android TV. It is also unclear how the plans will affect app development for Google's other living room device, the Chromecast.