According to documents obtained by The Verge, Google is reportedly preparing to release a new Android TV set-top box. The media streaming device includes a simple card interface with native apps, voice search, and more.
The document notes that the set-top box will be powered by Android and will offer a series of “cards” that represent different categories, like movies, apps, TV shows, and games.
Users will be able to interact with the interface using a four-way directional pad, which also features Enter, Home, and Back buttons. Much like Amazon’s Fire TV, the set-top box will reportedly feature an optional game controller.
“Access to content should be simple and magical,” reads one Google document, which adds that it should never take more than three clicks or gestures to go from the homescreen to enjoying a new piece of content. Even search appears to be secondary to intuitively understanding what you want and delivering it as soon as possible, though search will be still be one of Android TV’s primary tools. In addition to universal search, pressing the Search button on the controller will let you search from within individual apps as well.
Android TV is said to also support voice input, notifications, and Google’s famous search experience. The set-top box will also feature a recommendation system that will suggest content based on a user’s interests and past viewing history.
Google is reportedly asking developers to create apps for its new media streaming box that include interfaces that have been optimized for use on a TV. In addition to apps like Netflix, Hulu, Vevo, and Pandora, which are expected to ship with the device, the company will also include its own apps like Google Play, YouTube, and Hangouts.
“Android TV is Android, optimized for the living room consumption experience on a TV screen,” writes the company, but the focus is on simplicity for now. Google is stripping away unneeded features like telephony, cameras, touchscreen support and near-field communication to keep developers focused, and handing them ready-made interfaces where they can hopefully just plug in shows, games, photos, music, and films.
Google is expected to keep its Chromecast HDMI streaming stick after the company releases Google TV. The company has denied to comment about this story.
The device’s launch date is still unknown, but it is clear that Google wants to enter the growing market of set-top boxes to compete with Amazon’s newly announced Fire TV, along with devices like the Roku and Apple TV.
Apple is expected to release an upgraded Apple TV in the spring, bringing with it various improvements including an upgraded processor, game support, and even its own App Store. The set-top box may also get additional content as the company continues investigating partnership opportunities with cable companies.