Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is planning to unveil a set-top box Wednesday at I/O, its annual developers conference, and it seems everyone is trying to spoil the surprise. News outlets from the Wall Street Journal to Android Police have confirmed that Android TV, Google’s latest foray into the living room, is on its way.
Following Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) unveiling of the Fire TV, as well as similar set-top boxes from Roku and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google will announce a device capable of streaming from services like Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Hulu Plus. Initial reports suggested that Google will provide Android TV software to manufacturers, much as it develops the Android operating system for smartphones and tablets, and will manage Android Wear software for devices from a number of manufacturers.
Whether Android TV will be a singular device, manufactured by a third party and sold by Google directly, like the company’s popular Chromecast HDMI streaming stick, is not immediately clear. Whereas the Chromecast receives input instructions from a user’s smartphone, most larger set-top boxes come with a separate remote control. An Android user noticed on Tuesday that an update for a game included mention of Android TV, posting a captured screen of the update to the Google+ social network.
The game’s announced compatibility with Android TV likely means that Google plans to allow smartphone apps to appear on television sets. Such a feature would allow users to play Android games on a larger screen, using their mobile devices as a controller. Google has reportedly been at work on a set-top box with streaming media and gaming features since last year, to compete with the Fire TV as well as an as yet unannounced new device from Apple.