Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Google not ready to give up on smart TV yet

  • Print

Google Inc. still imagines a world in which people talk to their TV, commanding it to switch from ESPN to YouTube, start playing Orange Is the New Black on Netflix or answer "What's the weather like tomorrow?"

But nearly four years after struggling to achieve its vision and watching it flop, Google this week declared it will try again. At the Google I/O conference for application developers, the company demonstrated a system that purports to tie various devices together to deliver quick access to movies, television shows, video games and web videos on smartphones, tablets and TVs.

Google's new run at television validates the importance of owning a piece of the living room, said Colin Dixon of the tech consulting firm nScreenMedia.

The Android operating system simplified work for mobile-device manufacturers and now powers about 70 per cent of smartphones worldwide, reported the IHS. Forecast by MarketsandMarkets to be worth $265 billion by 2016, the smart-TV market could be far more lucrative for Google.

Engagement, and thus the value of ads, goes up when someone's watching on a television compared to other screens, Dixon said.

"Google has such a large footprint across smartphones, tablets and other devices that they could create an experience so slick that it's difficult to match," he said. "Over time, it is potentially very disruptive."

Still, the new approach is less bold than the previous attempt. When television sets and media consoles powered by the new Google software arrive as early as this fall, some analysts said, very little could separate Google from long-standing competitors.

In 2010, Sony Corp. and Logitech started selling smart TVs that ran Google software. Through voice commands, physical keyboards or remote controls, users could search the web, hunt for online video and music streams, or check social-media accounts through apps.

But Hollywood feared Google's encroachment into the living room and limited the content made available to the web-search-and-ads company. The keyboards and remotes proved clunky.

Now the reincarnation of the failed Google TV platform, known as Android TV, enters a world in which streaming apps from Netflix, Hulu and the content owners themselves have widened the availability of shows and movies online. Smartphones and tablets have introduced more than one billion people to the Google-backed Android system, and many of those users have become casual gamers.

So in Android TV, it's game controllers and not keyboards that will help link users to their television sets and media consoles.

Chris McKillop, engineering manager for Android TV, told software programmers this week Google would require them to make apps that can be controlled by a simple five-button directional pad rather than a full keyboard and a smattering of buttons. Voice commands, of course, also work. The apps must use simple grid layouts that Google's dubbed the Leanback scheme.

Google will improve the interface, too. On the home screen, the most-used apps would be on the left to limit unnecessary scrolling, while specific content recommendations would go up top based on previous viewing, gaming or listening.

McKillop, paraphrasing Android's design director, told the roomful of developers, "When your butt hits the sofa, you lose 20 IQ points. You don't want to think. You don't want to use a computer. You don't want your TV to be a computer. You want it to entertain you."

Barbara Kraus, market research director at Parks Associates, said about a third of U.S. households with broadband Internet have smart TVs, a percentage expected to double by 2018.

But the top three smart-TV makers -- Samsung Corp., Vizio Inc. and LG Electronics Inc. -- all have their own operating systems, and analysts doubted the companies would use Android TV.

Instead, Google said it's Sony, Sharp Corp. and an overseas brand of Philips that plan to release displays that have Android TV and the slate of apps, such as Netflix, TuneIn and Showtime. Sony says using Android TV would let it focus on hardware development.

Asus Inc. and Carlsbad, Calif.,-based gaming hardware maker Razer are making Android TV consoles that will compete with devices including Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. Such devices sit in a fifth of U.S. households with broadband Internet, Kraus said.

Android TV boxes also will have to live alongside Google Chromecast, a stick plugged into HDMI ports that display some apps from Android and iOS on a television.

 

-- Los Angeles Times

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 28, 2014 B11

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Jets Bogosian-Little-Ladd

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A  young goose stuffed with bread from  St Vital park passers-by takes a nap in the shade Thursday near lunch  –see Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge Day 29-June 28, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Scottish independence referendum will have an effect in Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google