“Google TV will be Android TV”

Android TV

According to GigaOm, Google is thinking about rebranding Google TV into Android TV. Apart from the name change, no new services or products are about to be released under this new brand so this would be more a cosmetic kind of a change. In a way, it makes sense that Google is naming it Android TV as the current devices are running on Android and Android is a well known brand of its own these days and the brand Google is still more associated with search then with an operating system. However, Google is also pushing the Chrome brand beyond the browser with products like Chromecast, a television HDMI dongle. So if Google would change the name of Google TV, why not call it Chrome TV? Or will they change the name of Chromecast into Androidcast as well?

Apple buys video recommendation app Matcha.tv

Matcha TV

All of a sudden the app disappeared from the App Store and the website went blank. As it turns out, because Matcha.tv had been acquired by Apple. According to VentureBeat for a small amount (between USD 1 and USD 1,5 million.

Matcha.tv was one the iOS apps one could use to discover TV content based on a wide variaty of sources (from Comcast to Hulu, from Amazon to iTunes) and was ranked amongst the top 15 entertainment apps in the Apple App Store.

Every move of Apple related to TV remains interesting as the company is still unclear about their real ambitions in this field. They have their Apple TV set-top box that does get software updates and they have sold well over 13 million devices so far. Apple fanboys and girls have been hoping for a big push of a TV product or even a TV screen for some years now but Cupertino stays silent.

Alibaba goes Smart TV

Alibaba

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant run by the infamous Jack Ma and is still partly owned by the American tech company Yahoo, is expanding into Smart TV according to the Wall Street Journal.

The technology company is introducing both a Smart TV operating system and a set-top box in an attempt to turn coach potatoes in happy customers.

Alibaba already has a massive e-commerce presence in China and a payment infrastructure called Alipay that facilitate half of the online payments made in China already. Together with the new Smart TV infrastructure, this could be a powerful combination.

The Smart TV’s are to be developed together with Skyworth Digital Holdings Ltd., Sichuan Changhong Electric Co. and Qingdao Haier Co. And the set-top box is developed with Wasu Media Holding Co.

So far, no prices or specific release dates have been announced, but expect more news on this in the coming months. Maybe Alibaba will show something at the IFA at Berlin coming September.

First update in 3 years for Google TV Remote Android App, voice search support added

Google TV Remote App

With one month to go to Google I/O 2013, Google has updated their Google TV Remote app for Android. Since the last update was done three years ago, one could say was about time.

With the Google TV Remote it is possible to use your Android smartphone or tablet to control your Google TV. The update, or more the refresh, got some minor improvements in the interface and now supports Google Voice Search. Although I do not see myself sitting in the livingroom talking to my telephone to select a film, a lot of people expect a lot from voice controlled devices. So will have to wait and see.

The Google TV Remote app is available as a free download in Google Play and works on devices running Android 2.2 and up.

“Apple’s TV will be called iTV, will be an Ultra HD and will be launched end 2013 / early 2014”

Apple iTV

At least, that is what Julian Ho and Alex Wolfgram of DigiTimes think. According to them, Apple will launch this television somewhere at the end of this year or the beginning of 2014. Next to the Ultra HD (3840 by 2160) screen, the television will have internet access and will be controlled by both motion and voice.

Personally, I doubt this to be true. The last decade, Apple brought us products that we did not expect. With features we had not thought about in a design we had not seen before and with an unprecedented user experience. They did not bring evolution, but revolution by creating completely new segments. And they did it in such a way that it took the competition a long time to come up with an answer allowing Apple to earn enormous amounts of money in the meantime.

So why would a company like that enter the market with a TV mentioned by DigiTimes. All television brands are introducing Ultra HD televisions. So where is the revolution if Apple would do the same. Voice and motion controls are already on the market and might not provide the best user experience for a television in the living room (picture yourself with the rest of family waiving and shouting at the television), so why would Apple use this? And last but not least, most television brands have a hard time making money selling TV sets. So if Apple does not bring a revolutionary new device, they are probably not going to make much money.

Does this mean that Apple will stay away from the television business. Probably not. But they will approach it in their own way. With something new that we could not think of.

 

image credit: Guilherme Martins Schasiepen

ReinCloud Corporation overall winner of the TV Hackfest San Francisco 2013

ReinCloud wins TV Hackfest San Francisco

ReinCloud Corporation won the TV Hackfest in San Francisco with ARGTV. ARGTV stands for Augmented Reality Gamification TV and yes, that sounds rather complicated. According to ReinCloud, with this platform one can interact with objects that appear on the television screen as if they were real. Or as CEO Dan Reitan explains, you can watch Mad Men and pick up the bottle that Don Draper just used to pour him a drink and examine the bottle by picking it up and turning it around. If you like what you see, you can buy a bottle or just put it back.

If this sounds too futuristic to you, just wait until Q3 of this year. By then, ReinCloud hopes to start shipping their ARGTV solution.

Google Fiber TV goes 3D

Google Fiber TV

The advantage of having a high speed connection is that you can stream a lot of data. Like 3D. The lucky people living in Kansas that have a Google Fiber TV subscription can exactly do so. Google has added two 3D channels to its already impressive list. As of now, you can get  the sportsnetwork ESPN3D  for USD 5 per month plus taxes and will find 3net aded for free.

For more information, check the Google Fiber TV blog.

LG buys webOS, will use it for Smart TV’s

LG Smart TV

LG announced today it has bought all webOS patents and software from HP with the idea of using it to build Smart TV with it.

Back in 2010, webOS came in to the hands of HP when the company bought Palm. After that, several attempts were made to make good use of the operating system, but they all failed.

If LG is really going to use webOS for Smart TV’s, it would mean another ecosystem in the already crowded Smart TV space. And it would also mean that LG has to think about using webOS for mobile phones as smartphones and Smart TV’s are increasingly integrating with each other. More and more mobile devices are used as an EPG or discovery tool that allow streaming to the big screen, but also apps for mobile devices are available on the television. This is one of the major advantages Google has with its Android platform and this is exactly why so many people are expecting something from Apple.

So trying to create an entire new ecosystem might proof to be very difficult if not impossible.

 

XBMC available for Apple TV 2

Apple TV

For those who think Apple TV is great but Apple TV with XBMC would be even better there is some good news. XBMC is now available for the jailbroken 5.2 version of the software (iOS 6.1).

To install XBMC, check out their wiki page.

LG to invest heavily in OLED TV, mass production will start next year

LG OLED TV

LG started the sales of their flagship Smart TV based on OLED technology today. With over 100 pre-orders for a 55 inch television priced over USD 10,000 (yes, more than ten thousand American Dollars), this was clearly news. But 100 televisions do not make any impact on a global market. LG obviously knows this and is investing in manufacturing facilities to ramp up production. The South Korean company has decided to invest USD 655 in their P9 factory in Paju, South Korea where the 8th generation OLED TV’s will be produced. Large scale production will bring prices down so the competition with other technologies like 4k or Ultra HD is getting more serious.