Google makes Android TV feel more like the boob tube

With a new feature called Channels, Google is letting developers and video providers like Vevo and AOL create linear flows of programming that can flip between traditional TV stations.

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Joan E. Solsman
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2 min read

Android TV is Google's operating system that powers televisions that connect with the Internet. CNET

Android TV will start to feel a little more like a screen you can channel surf.

The search giant Thursday introduced a feature called "Channels" for its Internet-connected-television operating system. The feature lets anyone developing apps or producing content for Android TV deliver video in a linear flow, like traditional broadcasts.

Google released the news to coincide with a keynote presentation at its annual developers' conference, Google I/O.

Google has increasingly expanded the scope of products beyond its market-dominating search engine. Android TV is indicative of the company's desire to infuse its software into every aspect of consumers' lives. It gives the company an entryway to the digital devices in their living room. However, Android TV hasn't reached the same popular awareness as streaming-media devices like Apple TV, Roku and Google's own Chromecast have.

With Android TV Channels, app developers can create a channel with a continuous feed of programming that will look and feel like a traditional TV channel. Consumers can add Channels to Android TV devices by going to the Play Store and creating a custom channel lineup. They will be added to the channels you already have on your television, so you can surf between Internet content like Vevo and AOL and traditional TV networks. In addition to those content providers, Google said the new feature will include channels from TED, the Huffington Post, Bloomberg, The Weather Network, Pluto and Zattoo.

Google also said it was also adding apps to the broader Android TV universe that will be available this summer, such as CBS, Fox, Epix, WWE, UFC, USA Today, Buzzfeed Video, Vimeo, Vudu and Twitch. (CBS is the parent company of CNET.)

Google announced Android TV at last year's I/O conference, with partners like Sony and Sharp. Since then, devices like the Google Nexus Player and Nvidia's Shield gaming console have also shipped powered by the system. It isn't Google's first foray into television. The company in 2010 introduced Google TV, but that service failed to gain traction with consumers.

Google has also tried to get its software onto televisions with Chromecast, a $35 device that looks like a USB drive and lets people stream shows and movies over the Internet to their TVs.