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Google Gets in the OTT Game

Users can stream content from their smartphones and tablets to their TVs using the new OS, which will also integrate with Google's Chromecast device as well.

San Francisco—At its annual I/O developer’s conference 2014 in San Francisco last week, Google announced Android TV, yet another software player to the increasingly crowded over-the-top video service landscape. When it officially launches next year, Android TV will use the new Android operating system (code-named “L” for now) and new software that runs on set-top box hardware.

The new service allows users to use voice search to find a live TV show, a movie from Google Play, or a music video on YouTube. Plus, because it’s Android, users can play their favorite Android games, reimagined for TV and with a gamepad. Android TV, which, like Chromecast, supports Google Cast technology, will ship with products from a range of consumer electronics companies later this year.

“Smart TVs are generally limited, and not competitive with their mobile cousins,” said Dave Burke, the engineering manager for Android who introduced Android TV on stage at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco. “We wanted to change that.”

Users will be able to stream content from their smartphones and tablets to their TVs using the system, which will also integrate with Google’s Chromecast device.

“This isn’t a new platform; that’s kind of the point,” Burke said. “We’re simply giving TV the same level of attention as phones and tablets have traditionally enjoyed. We want you to leverage your existing skills and investment in Android and extend them to TV.”

While the Google entry does not include any original content, something others like Netflix have found very successful with subscribers. It does, however, provide accommodations for games, streaming services, music and catch-up services.

Of note: Android Wear wearables, also announced at the developer’s conference, can also control Android TV and users can log into Google Play games and engage in multiplayer games with others.

The Android TV section of the Google Play Store will launch this autumn, while companies like Sharp and Sony have said they will make their upcoming line-ups of “smart TVs” Android TV-capable.