“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?

“Amazon will launch a Kindle TV set-top box”

Kindle TV

According to Businessweek, Amazon is getting ready to launch a streaming media device. The set-top box would allow users to access the content library of Amazon (Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime) and the suggestion was made that the box could be  named Kindle TV.

In a way it does make sense that Amazon is coming with dedicated hardware. Microsoft has its Xbox, Google has Google TV en Apple is still selling a lot of Apple TV’s. And with the Kindle, Amazon has shown that it can build hardware and that they feel that having own hardware is vital to ensure customers enjoying your product. However, there they do not have a very impressive library. And without that, no service is going to fly. Luckily Amazon knows this and is currently testing 14 different new episode of which at least one of them will become a full show.

Next to that, I think there is still a big chance that smartphones and tablets will take could be the main device for discovering video content and streaming it to a bigger screen. In that case, Amazon can still call it Kindle TV, but all they have to do is to add the feature to their Kindle.

 

Illustration by Tom Cheredar

Microsoft takes on Google TV with the new Xbox

Xbox

According to The Verge, the new Xbox (Xbox 720) will be  much more than a game console. Already it is possible to use the current Xbox as a video player, but the new Xbox will go much further.

The sources that talked to The Verge mention that the new Xbox will be able to create an overlay on top of the existing TV channel showing extra features and menu items. You will have to plug the TV cable into the Xbox. The enhanced signal will then be distributed to your TV screen via a HDMI cable. This could mean real-time additional information and features for TV shows and films. Real-time enhancements of TV shows has been promised for a while now, but so far we have not seen a successful implementation. And although I would love to try it, I am still not convinced that people are really going to use it. Especially not when there are more than one watching.

Obviously, the next Xbox will have a Kinect sensor as well. The Xbox 720 Kinect sensor is supposed to detect multiple simultaneously and will be able to pause the program when viewers look away. I am not really sure if this would be a feature I would use as I love to look at my phone or do other things whilst watching. And I guess I am not the only one.

With a Xbox event planned in May, we hopefully do not need to wait much longer for the final specifications.

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.

Updated YouTube app for iOS let’s you stream from your iOS device to your television

YouTube Send to TV

If you have ever used Apple AirPlay or Miracast, you know the advantages of pushing a stream from your telephone to your television. Much easier than using the remote control and much more logical too, as you are probably using your tablet or smartphone already to discover and select streaming content. On YouTube for instance.

Google figured this too and decided to update the YouTube app for iOS with a ‘Send to TV‘ functionality. With that, your mobile iOS device connects automatically with your big screen en let’s you display the content there.
The functionality works automatically with Google TV enabled devices and with Xbox and PS3 consoles after creating a manual handshake.

This news is particularly interesting in view of the recent rumours of YouTube preparing for paid channels. Just imagine what would happen if YouTube would start broadcasting the latest series and films. That would mean serious competition for Netflix and Amazon on the one hand and traditional TV channels on the other.

Sony updates Google TV player NSZ-GS7

Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV

Sony is one the of most important consumer electronics companies pushing Google TV. With their NSZ-GS7 player they created their own version of a Smart TV box based on the Google TV platform. And now they have updated their software.

The updated version comes with a new user interface, the PrimeTime app and via the  Google Play store  the Amazon Video on Demand and the new YouTube app can be downloaded and installed.

Sony has also updated their remote control, the Sony NSG-MR7U, with voice activations commands. So now you can talk to your remote instead of using the keypad. The remote itself is almost a little computer itself with a backlit QWERTY keyboard on the backside and a big touchpad on the front.

Apple TV, the latest rumours and developments.

Apple TV

The game is on. With big competitors like Microsoft (the new Xbox 720 is supposed to be coming soon and a Windows 8 based ecosystem), Amazon (Kindle, Amazon Prime Instant Video but also golden oldy IMDB), Google (Google TV, Android) and since yesterday even Intel but also the smaller ones like Netflix, Dijit and Roku, Apple must feel the pressure building up. And clearly CEO Tim Cook could use a success of his own. This could be the iWatch, it could be Apple iTV or even both. Whilst the continuous stream of rumours seem to indicate that something is bound to happen, it is time to sum up the most recent stories.

Techcrunch writes about an analyst note suggesting that an event around Apple TV will be organised in March. At this event, an offical SDK (Software Development Kit) is to be introduced. The quoted analyst Peter Misek also suggest the introduction of an Apple Television set somewhere in September or October.
If there is going to be a real television, this could be based on technology from Loewe. Stocks of the German hardware manufacturer jumped initially more than 40% on the rumour that Apple is about to launch a bid of 4 euro per share for the troubled company. Obviously all parties decline comment or simply deny but that is part of the game. Interesting to know also, is that Apple allegedly invested heavily in supplier Sharp last year in order to secure continued supply of displays for their telephones. But Sharp also builds televisions and owns 28% of the stocks of Loewe.

The big issue in the end however, will probably not whether or not Apple can build a television. The success of adding a TV set to the ecosystem will probably depend on content. MIT Technology Review wrote a good read on the Apple TV and, amongst others, also stresses this point. Where the music industry had not much choice working together with Apple and allowing them to sell songs instead of albums, the producers of films and series are in a completely different positions. And so far they are exploring new ways to distribute content to the livingroom whereas the only thing the music industry did was taking legal action in an effort to stop progress. Getting the major media companies on board and / or buying libraries and / or creating their own content (like Netflix and Amazon are doing) will be key to the success of any kind of Apple TV or iTV.