A Chromecast with a Remote

The internet is a series of tubes.

Last week Android TV leaked on The Verge. The leak was conveniently timed right after the Amazon Fire TV release, and featured unusually clear screenshots that were perfectly front facing but appeared lightly filtered, almost as if to make them appear as though they were unintentionally leaked. Regardless of intent, it gave us an insight into the set-top box that Google is supposedly building.

Just a couple of months ago I bought into the Google Chromecast, a headless HDMI dongle that streams the internet to your TV. The Chromecast is as simple as can be: it requires you to use your handset or tablet to control it, so there are no “apps” per se. In fact, in order for Netflix to support the Chromecast, it has to offer its content — movies, TV shows, poster art, box art — as URLs. Because the Chromecast can read nothing else.

That’s where it gets interesting. The article in The Verge suggests an obvious question, why is Google making a set-top box that requires apps when its first successful TV device required none? Thankfully, GigaOM filled in the blanks in their article on the technology behind. If I’m reading the tea-leaves correctly, Google have indeed cracked it, and the Android TV doesn’t really require apps — not in the way we’re used to:

I’ve been told that Google’s new approach wants to do away with those differences by replacing these custom interfaces with standardized templates. Publishers wouldn’t need to come up with their own user interface, but instead would develop apps that provide data feeds to the Android TV platform.

Read it this way: you don’t have to make an app for the Android TV, your content just has to be URL accessible. In fact, if a service is already Chromecast ready, putting it on Android TV will probably require very little work. It’s quite clever; just expose the content-tube endpoint and  you have the best of the internet in a native experience, like an RSS feed for television.

Android TV is just a bigger Chromecast, with a remote-control and an interface, should you prefer that. Ted Stevens was right all along.

2 thoughts on “A Chromecast with a Remote”

  1. I am such an enormous fan of the Chromecast, that I think this is completely unnecessary – though maybe some people *need* a TV-based interface and remote control to prevent head explosion. But I’m not friends with those people. I love that the interface is on my phone or my tablet and I can switch something to the TV (or back to my whatever) whenever I want. No more boxes, please.

    1. joen says:

      I agree completely. It’s the simplicity of the Chromecast ideology that makes me love it. I don’t want to mess with a fiddly TV interface, I want my smart TV to be dumb. So I’m probably not in the market for an Android TV box either.

      That being said, from a purely sales-pragmatic perspective, a box like this makes a lot of sense, at least until casting becomes a more mainstream feature. Most people practically have remote control imprints in their couches.

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