Google ready to launch simplified Google TV dubbed 'Android TV'?

The company is getting ready to unveil an Apple TV-like set-top box that's "all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction," according to a new report that quotes what it says are internal Google documents.


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Google's original "Google TV," which was criticized for its complexity. Sarah Tew/CNET

Google is getting set to unveil another TV effort -- "Android TV" -- and apparently it'll look a lot like Apple TV, Roku, Amazon's just-released Fire TV, and other set-top boxes.

That's according to a report in blog The Verge, which says it got its hands on internal Google documents that describe the product (but apparently don't give specifics on a release schedule -- the report says only that it's "about to launch").

"Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform," the Google documents reportedly say. "It's all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction."

Google released its Google TV software in 2010, but the platform was handicapped by complexity, slow response times, and difficult operation. There have been various reports since then that the company has been planning a new product, and reports about an "Android TV" rebranding surfaced last October.

This time around Google is reportedly looking to make things -- to quote the internal docs -- "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast," and to keep things simple.

"The company is calling for developers to build extremely simple TV apps for an extremely simple set-top-box interface," reads the Verge report. "While Android still lives under the hood, the interface will consist of a set of scrolling 'cards' that represent movies, shows, apps, and games sitting on a shelf. You use a remote control with a four-way directional pad to scroll left and right through different suggestions, or up and down through different categories of content, each with their own shelves. Much like on other set-top boxes, each item will be like a miniature movie poster or book cover, and you'll pick the one you want. The controller will also have Enter, Home, and Back buttons to help get around, and there will be 'optional' game controllers."

Screenshots included in the Verge report display shortcuts to Google apps such as YouTube, Hangouts, and the Google Play store, as well as third-party apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora. There's also a games section. The Verge says the product won't supplant Google's successful Chromecast Internet-to-TV dongle, so user-interface designers might have to accommodate two separate products.

You can check out the screenshots here.

We've contacted Google for comment and will update this post when we know more.

 

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