Android TV interface

Google TV is dead. Long live Android TV. At the Google I/O 2014 keynote today Google unveiled Android TV. Here's everything you need to know about Android TV. Including Android TV release date and features. (We'll update this feature as we know more.)

What is Android TV?

This isn't a new platform; that's kind of the point,” said Google's Dave Burke, speaking to developers. “We're simply giving TV the same level of attention as phones and tablets have traditionally enjoyed. We want you to leverage your existing skills and investment in Android and extend them to TV.”

Android TV is simply a means of bringing to your TV set all of the apps and features of your Android smartphone or tablet. It will allow you to play Android games on your TV set, for instance.

Android TV replaces Google TV. Google launched Google TV to great fanfare in 2010. Google TV was focused on simply porting the best TV content on the web into your TV. It wasn't a success, in part because of the paucity of content. In the UK at least, there wasn't much of high quality to watch on your expensive Google TV device.

Android TVs will be like other smart TVs, but instead of relying on proprietary app stores from the likes of Samsung and Sony, you will be able to access Google Play apps and content.

Android TV requires just a directional D-pad as well as voice input, which could appear in a traditional remote, a virtual keypad on a smartphone or even a gamepad. Burke showed off the TV input framework, which allows Android TVs to handle both HDMI and streaming video. See The 7 best Smart TVs: what is the best Smart TV of 2014.

Android TV release date

All smart TVs made by Sony in 2014 as well as all smart TVs made by Sharp, Philips and TPVision in 2015 will run on Android TV, Burke said. He also announced that LG will create Android smart TVs. Expect more to follow.

Burke also said that dedicated Android TV set-top boxes from Asus, Razr, and others will launch this Autumn. (See also: Apple TV vs Chromecast comparison review: Should i buy Apple TV or Chromecast?)

Android TV features

Key to the new features in Android TV is search (typically enough for Google). Search is powered by voice. Burke used his phone to search for content, but the remote could be used. When he searched for Breaking Bad, he got a list of actors and YouTube clips, as well as the show itself. Thus Android TV adds the second screen experience to your one screen.

Other features included the use of your TV when you are not watching shows. Google demonstrated using your TV set as the biggest picture frame in the house, rotating images you choose.

Android TV supports Google Cast support, so you can use it just like a Google Chromecast. Google will offer a dedicated Google Play apps store for TV.

Another feature: when you press the home button on your remote (or smartphone or -watch), you see an overlay of shows and movies. There's a set of recommended movies at the top, with the most frequently-used applications tucked in below. Semantic, contextual search allows you to search for content by genre or actor. And you can ask trivia questions, too. Android TV will also recommend content based on your watching habits.

Android TV also makes your television set a gaming device. You can download and install games from Google Play. And with the games platform you can share achievements, and even play multiplayer games. Read: Android 4.5 release date and features: When will the next version of Android (Lollipop) come out?

Android TV