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Last week Amazon finally ended months of rumors when the company unveiled Fire TV, a tiny black square box that plugs into your television and streams content from the web. As it happens, Amazon’s long-awaited entry into your living room space was just the start: according to a post on the Verge, Google will soon be unveiling a media streaming box of its own called Android TV.

Android TV: The Details

A glimpse at Android TV's user-interface. (Image via the Verge)
A glimpse at Android TV’s user-interface. (Image via the Verge)

In all the ways that matter, Android TV seems to be identical to Fire TV—and Apple TV, and Roku, for that matter. It’s going to be another media hub that scoops content from the Internet and dumps it onto your screen. The key difference, explains the report, is that Android TV will put content first. Rather than having to select a specific service or app to find your show or movie, Android TV will suggest those pieces of media right on the home screen. So if you watch Big Trouble in Little China via Netflix on Tuesday, you may find Escape from LA suggested right on your home screen. Selecting it will let you simply watch the thing through whatever services to which you subscribe (and which also offers it up).

The post provides quotes from internal Google documents that describe Android TV’s goals. One telling excerpt: “Access to content should be simple and magical.” It continues: “Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform. It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction […] cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast.”

The post adds that Android TV will also sport its own special remote and that the device itself will support “voice input,” as well as a game controller, much like Amazon Fire TV’s remote. And while there’s no release date mentioned in the post, it does say that it’s “about to launch.” The device will also feature apps from other content providers, like the aforementioned Netflix, along with the likes of Hulu and Vevo, that are specially made to work with Android TV’s simplified UI. From what we can see, though, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that you’ll be able to access your Amazon Prime account and get content from that source.

Fire TV versus Android TV

Let’s ignore, for a moment, that there are already so many ways to stream content to your television. In a head-to-head battle between Fire TV and Android TV, it’ll be interesting to see where each company seeks to differentiate itself from the competition.

How will Android TV fare against Amazon's Fire TV?
How will Android TV fare against Amazon’s Fire TV?

In Amazon’s corner, you’ve got the fact that it’s managed to master the art of selling, and will likely find ways to sell consumers lots of content through its new TV platform. Owning game developer Double Helix and having announced deals with lots of big game publishers like EA and Ubisoft, for instance, also helps its reputation as a viable gaming console. Sure, it won’t be able to compete in the same way with the likes of Sony, Microsoft, or even Nintendo, but if you’re looking for a cheap Android game box, you can get everything you need from Amazon for $140 (that’s for the Fire TV and the controller).

We don’t have any information about Android TV’s price, but it stands to reason it’ll be comparable. Moreover, Google will almost certainly edge out Amazon in terms of user interface. Google may not be as much of a pro as Amazon at selling stuff, but they sure do know how to do Android right. The Nexus line of devices, which runs pure Android, is far superior to Amazon’s god-awful forked version of Android that runs on the Kindle Fire tablets. And if Google can find a way to provide good media content, including television, movies, music, and games, I can definitely see a real race happening here.

Of course, that also leaves other questions. Will consumers want Android TV when other, more established media streaming devices have already been on the market for years? Apple users are more than happy to stick with Apple TV. And Google may end up competing with itself, what with the Chromecast dongle it released last year that lets users stream content from their PCs right to their televisions. Where will Chromecast fit in once Android TV is launched?

[Source: The Verge]

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