See, I told you it probably wasn't dead. Several months ago I wrote Android Apps May Save Google TV's Ass though I did then later write The Death Knell For Google TV? Logitech Revue Drops Price To $99 Admittedly, in that second one I did say, "What it really sounds like is one of two things: a throwing in of the proverbial towel, or, a way to clear out inventory for Revue 2.0." So as you can see, I was right, again, not to gloat or anything (muahahaha!) Well, I did sort of hedge my bet on that last one so I really couldn't lose, could I?
Recently there was a series of, let's call them maneuvers, on the part of Google in regards to Google TV. I talked to some people who thought that they were going to just call it quits, like they have with so many other projects that showed so much potential. But I didn't think Google was ready to concede defeat just yet. After all, I think Google TV might be core to this home automation thing that Google wants Android to turn into which I mentioned in Google-Motorola Deal Means More Video Streaming to Android Devices? Here's a pretty cool video showing and Android home control interface.
Leaks Don't Sink Ships
So after all that, the new Honeycomb Android Google TV OS was "leaked" in a beta form to the Interwebs. Hurrah for well planned corporate data leaks! Here's some great instructions on how to update your device. Here's a video:
Why do I say well-planned corporate data leak? Well, the file is still out there three weeks later. If it had really been an unauthorized leak, don't you think they would have sent some take down and cease and desist type lingo to the sites hosting the files? Once again logic prevails! Then again, it might just be that they were ready to put it out to the public anyway.
Android SDK Now With TV Flavor!
Now on top of all that, the new Android SDK plugin is available to developers to, yep, you guessed it, start making Google TV apps. So the final piece of the puzzle drops into place and I'm now 100% positive that the leak, wasn't really a leak, or rather, was a great marketing ploy. Hey, it's been done before!
Here's a quick clip from the Google TV blog about it:
While the add-on does not contain all features of Google TV, it enables developers to emulate Google TV and build apps using standard Android SDK tools. It also provides new APIs for TV interaction, such as TV channel line-up. Google TV emulation is currently supported on Linux with KVM only, and we are working on support for other operating systems. We're very happy that through KVM we've been able to create a fast Android emulator for TV.
Of course, if you've got a Google TV unit, downloaded the beta software and installed it…you could already be testing your apps in a fairly good environment. As it turns out, some Google Android Apps might simply work "out of the box" as it were.
Depending on the design and use case, an existing Android app may work well on Google TV as is, or it may require fixes. With the add-on you can test your apps to determine if they would be a good fit for TV and whether any tweaks are required. We are also publishing UI guidelines to help you with topics like optimizing for d-pad navigation, presenting information for 10-foot viewing, designing apps that work well across devices, etc. The guidelines include information on how certain UI elements on Google TV differ from other Android devices.
The thing about the Android Market is that it's segregated by feature requirements, so if you've got an App that has something it needs that is not in the Google TV build (example: touchscreen), it won't show up in the Google TV App Market. Fair enough, keeps from loads of apps in the market that won't work on the devices.
Get Started Now
App-spansion to the Nth
So, there could be a rapid influx of Apps for the new Google TV OS right from the get go and there are bound to be numerous more in the near future. I can use my phone as my remote, I'm all for it, because it's barely [my phone] worth much more than being used as a remote. In fact, if I can use my phone, from remote, as a remote to say set up a DVR session as well as do some home automation stuff like turn lights on and off…well that's super-mega-awesome, innit?
One interesting application for Google TV that they highlighted in their blog was MeeGenius' cool sort of educational ebook thing for kids.
MeeGenius! brings books to life on the big screen with beautiful illustrations, narration, and word highlighting. The stories are narrated aloud while children follow along with pictures and highlighted text. The narration combined with the word-highlighting promotes early reading skills such as word recognition. The stories include old favorites such as The Gingerbread Man as well as newer titles.
How I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways…
So let's list all the ways that Google TV can be used, shall we?
- Search for content online and broadcast
- Surf the web with Flash (Chrome and Flash Player 10.1)
- Apps to Access online media (Amazon, YouTube, Qriocity, etc)
- Tie phone to Google TV as remote
- Automate the home via an on-screen interface (well, maybe soon)
- Push media from phone to TV (see, Apple's not the only one)
- Browse and watch TV at the same time (which I find myself doing a lot of on the PC and TV)
- Create TV playlists including a mix of broadcast and online content (HALLELUJAH!)
- Entertain and educate the children (via that MeeGenius app)
- Play games (Angry Birds will flock to this!)
So, the only question I have now is…why haven't I got one of those Google TV thingamajiggies yet…after all, they're just $99 right? Hmm, I wonder if I could just build my own. Well, I guess I'll have to look into that…won't I? If you're interested in developing for Google TV or Android, check out the Google Code TV Developers page.
One Box to Rule Them All
Now this is all just tip of the iceberg as Google just announced that they expect Google TV to land on European shores in 2012. That could certainly open some new avenues, hopefully they'll be better received that they were by the "Big Three" here in the US. I also imagine that, since they now own Motorola Mobility, who makes cable set-top boxes etc, they will be working out ways to get the interface into those boxes and working to get cable companies on board with the product. Since I'm now a Time Warner subscriber I looked at my equipment. My set-top is a Cisco (HD non-DVR) but my modem is Motorola. What I think could happen in the future, is that there is one box for it all.
A single, Google TV OS, Internet and television one-stop box with LAN to plug in your computers or wireless routers. It could work, I would get definitely be interested because I'm tired of having long coax or network cables all over the place; one to the cable box, another to the modem.
That might be the ultimate Google goal. A single Google box in the home that ties it all together, home automation, mobile phone linking, cable, edutainment and Internet. Oh wait, did I just uncover their plan to take over the universe? If so, they should come recruit me…and not send an assassin. I've obviously got some great forward-thinking ability which could come in handy there.