Posts Tagged ‘version’

Android 4.2 starts rolling out to LG Google TVs

October 24th, 2013

Owners of LG’s Google TVs are finally getting their Jelly bean update: LG started updating its Google TV devices with Android version 4.2.2 Wednesday. The update represents a big step for Google TV, which up until now was based on Android 3.2 — but it could also be the last update under the Google TV moniker.

Some users reported receiving the update Thursday, and an LG spokesperson confirmed that LG has officially pulled the trigger on the update. Google first announced in May that it was going to update Google TV with Jelly Bean, and LG had said at the time that it would push out the device by Q3, but the company obviously missed that goal by a few weeks.

The new update primarily brings new features for developers to Google TV, as it will now be easier to port apps running on Android tablets or phones to the TV platform. Owners of LG devices also got access to an app for Walmart’s Vudu service and a new version of Google’s Chrome browser, which apparently doesn’t run Flash anymore, according to screen shots published by Android Police.

The update to a more recent version of Android is just a first step for Google TV. The next one will be a new name, as Google has decided to get rid of the Google TV brand altogether and instead encourages manufacturers to call their devices “Android TV” or TV with “Google services.”

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Google to sunset Google TV brand as its smart TV platform merges with Android

October 10th, 2013

Google TV is dead, long live Android TV: Three years after launching the first generation of Google TV devices, Google is now looking to rid itself of the brand and realign its smart TV platform efforts more closely with Android. The move is part admission that Google TV failed, part hope that Android will eventually find its place in the living room.

Google apparently isn’t quite ready to announce the switch-over yet; a spokesperson contacted for this story declined to comment. However, an executive from a consumer electronics manufacturer that has been producing Google TV devices confirmed the rebranding in a recent conversation with GigaOM, saying: “They are calling it ‘Android TV.’”

Google’s partners, developers have stopped using the name

Some of Google’s hardware partners have already made the switch. Sony introduced a new smart TV adapter dubbed the Bravia TV stick last month. The device is based on the most recent version of Google TV, but Sony’s announcement didn’t mention that fact once. Jamie Marsh, TV marketing manager for Sony Electronics, was instead quoted saying that the device “brings the full power of Google services to your TV.”

Sony's latest TV stick is based on the latest version of Google TV, but you won't find that mentioned in any of its marketing material.

Sony’s latest TV stick is based on the latest version of Google TV, but you won’t find that mentioned in any of its marketing material.

Sony isn’t alone with this kind of wording. Geneva, Switzerland-based chipset manufacturer STMicroelectronics announced support for Google TV products last month, but also refrained from using the brand in its announcement, instead saying that its new SDK “allows the development of Android-compliant devices and supports the latest Google services for TV.” And LG recently showed off some new devices at the IBC in Amsterdam that were described as Android devices with access to “the latest Google services for TV.”

Even members of the original Google TV team have started to drop that name when talking about their work. A recently-scheduled developer event in Seoul was officially called “Android TV Developer Day,” and some developers have started to change affiliations in their online biographies from “Google TV” to “Android TV.”

The use of both “Android TV” and “Google services for TV” suggests that Google may not have finalized the new branding for its TV efforts yet, or that it may use a variety of brands depending on the target audience. It’s unclear when the company is officially going to announce the switch.

TV devices will run the latest version of Android, offer more options

For Google TV, this is more than just a name change. The TV platform was launched three years ago based on Honeycomb, the Android version that also powered Google’s first steps into the tablet world. Google’s latest tablets now run Android 4.3, but Google TV is still stuck on Android version 3.2, which makes it much harder for developers to bring their apps to the TV screen.

Google announced earlier this year that it would update Google TV to the latest version of Android, which would allow developers to use the same APIs available on mobile devices. The upgrade to Android 4.2 was officially announced for Q3, but word is that LG will now update their Google TV devices later this month, with other manufacturers following in the coming months.

shutterstock_134785721

Android has long moved on, but Google TV users have been stuck with Honeycomb.

Google recently announced the latest version of Android, code-named KitKat, which could be available as early as next week. The company said earlier this year that consumer electronics manufacturers will be able to more easily upgrade their TV hardware to the most recent version of Android after the switch to 4.2, and one should assume that manufacturers will have access to KitKat as soon as it is released for mobile devices.

Of course, when and if devices are going to be upgraded to KitKat depends on each manufacturer, which will apparently have more freedom with other device design choices as well. Originally, Google required device manufacturers to include a full QUERTY keyboard as well as a variety of other hardware specs with each and every Google TV device.

The next generation of Android TV devices running Google services could possibly be a lot more customized, with manufacturers picking and choosing from a range of services and apps. Vizio CTO Matt McRae told us earlier this year already that some future Google TV devices may ditch live TV and look more like a Roku box, and Google’s new approach toward Android on TV seems to make these kinds of devices possible.

Google TV’s long and painful struggle

Google had big ambitions for the living room when it first unveiled Google TV back in 2010, but the first generation of Google TV devices was widely rebuffed by both consumers and content providers. TV viewers didn’t like the complicated set-up and unwieldy keyboards of Google TV devices. Broadcasters didn’t appreciate the idea of consumers being able to watch free web content on their TV sets and started to block Google TV from accessing their websites.

Sony's first-generation Google TV remote control had 80 buttons.

Sony’s first-generation Google TV remote control had 80 buttons.

It didn’t exactly help that Google TV was initially based on Intel’s architecture. The chips made Google TV devices a lot more expensive than competing boxes from Roku and Apple, severely impacting sales. Logitech, a manufacturer of a first-generation Google TV companion box, lost millions on its bet on the living room, forcing Logitech CEO Gerald Quindlen to resign.

Google gradually improved the Google TV experience, beefing up voice search and partnering with additional hardware manufacturers, but the platform nonetheless never really caught on with consumers. Neither Google nor its partners ever released any sales numbers, but judging from app install numbers available on Google Play, one can estimate that there are just about 1 million Google TV devices currently in use.

Google already has a winner: Chromecast

So why did Google finally decide to rid itself of the brand? The upgrade to the latest version of Android seems to be the main factor, but chances are that the surprising success of Chromecast made the decision even easier. Google hasn’t said yet how many Chromecast devices it has sold since first introducing the product in July, but anecdotal evidence suggests that sales are going very well: Not only was Chromecast sold out for weeks, it’s currently the number one selling electronics device on Amazon , outselling even Amazon’s new Kindle models, as well as its direct competitors from Apple and Roku.

Chromecast is currently Amazon's best-selling electronics device.

Chromecast is currently Amazon’s best-selling electronics device.

But Chromecast isn’t just more successful than Google TV. In many ways, it encapsulates everything Google learned from Google TV’s failures. Consumers and critics mocked the unwieldy remote controls of early Google TV models; Chromecast doesn’t come with a remote at all. Google TV’s early UI seemed too complicated when compared to its competition; Chromecast doesn’t have any UI that has to be navigated on the TV screen. Google TV tried to compete with too many platforms; Chromecast ties in closely with both Android and iOS.

Google has already said that it wants to make the core casting capabilities of Chromecast available to other consumer electronics manufacturers, but it hasn’t said yet when or how this is going to happen. With Google TV being rebranded, I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see Google Casting become just one more Google service for TVs – some of which may even run Android.

Honeycomb image courtesy of Shutterstock user Lev Kropotov.

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Apple TV 6.0 quietly pulled following bricked updates, connectivity issues

September 22nd, 2013

Apple TV 6.0 quietly pulled following bricked updates, connectivity issues

If you haven’t already updated your Apple TV to version 6.0, you’ll have to wait: Cupertino has discreetly pulled the software upgrade. Although no official statement has been made, users on Twitter have been reporting connectivity issues and accidental resets throughout the weekend. An unlucky few even saw their devices bricked entirely. Now, manually checked boxes report that version 5.3 is “up to date.” There’s no word yet when a more stable version of the software will be available for download, but when it is, it should bring users the AirPlay from iCloud support (for devices running iOS 7) and iTunes Radio access Apple promised on Friday.

Filed under: Home Entertainment, HD, Apple

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Via: iMore, 9to5Mac

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Redbox Instant is coming to Google TV soon, Roku up next

May 17th, 2013

Redbox Instant by Verizon is going to bring its streaming service to Google TV devices soon: The company demonstrated a prototype of its app at Google I/O Friday, and a representative told me that the app will launch in earnest within the next few weeks. After that, the company is going to launch a channel on Roku media streamers.

Check out a photo of the app UI below:

rbi on google tv

Redbox Instant by Verizon’s prototype app was on display on an LG Google TV that ran the next version of Google TV that is based on Android 4.2.2, or Jelly Bean. That version will come to Google TV devices in the third quarter of this year, but I was told that the Redbox Instant app will be available before that, and that is going to work just fine with the current version of Google TV. However, the service won’t be available on Google TV devices using an Intel processor, which means that owners of the Logitech Revue and other first-generation devices won’t be able to use it.

Redbox Instant first launched on select Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players as well as PCs and mobile devices in March. The joint-venture between Redbox and Verizon has since added support for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 as well as select LG Smart TVs. I was told by a representative Friday that the company is looking to add support for Roku players soon after rolling out the Google TV app.

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Google TV will receive Android 4.2.2 update as well as latest version of Chrome

May 15th, 2013

Google will update its Google TV platform to Android 4.2.2, the company announced on Google+ Wednesday. The update will be rolled out to existing devices in the coming months, and it will bring all the major features of the latest version of Android and Chrome to TV screens.

From the announcement post:

“Today, Google TV is moving to the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean, 4.2.2), and we’ve refactored Google TV so that our TV OEM partners can update to future versions of Android in a matter of weeks rather than months. For developers, this means you can build TV experiences using the latest Android APIs, including the NDK.

Today Google TV is also moving to the latest version of Chrome, and from now on Google TV benefits from Chrome updates on the same six week cycle that you’ve come to expect from Chrome. In Chrome on Google TV, we’ve added support for hardware-based content protection, enabling developers to provide premium TV content in HD within their web apps.”

Some Google TV hardware partners have been working with the new version since February.

This will be a big step for Google TV, which has been based on Android 3.2, or Honeycomb, since the last major OS update in late 2011. However, some Google TV owners won’t be able to take advantage of the update: A Google spokesperson confirmed Wednesday that it will only be available for ARM-based Google TV devices, and not on first-generation Intel-based Google TV set-top-boxes and TVs.

Coming next to Google TV: video games?

The update could bring a number of new features to Google TV that owners of newer Android handsets take for granted, including a better performance, a much-needed UI-update and an all likelihood some form of Google Now integration. It should also help developers by making it easier to port their Android 4.x-optimized apps to Google TV.

But there’s another aspect that’s interesting about this step: Google also announced Google Play games services, a cloud gaming service that makes it possible to develop multi-player games and save game plays across devices, at I/O Wednesday.

With Google TV switching to Android 4.2.2, it’s reasonable to assume that Google TV devices should have access to Google Play Games sooner or later as well. This could give the smart TV platform, which has so far only seen modest adoption, another leg to stand on, and potentially enable future Google TV devices to function as full-blown game consoles as well.

This post was updated at 1:35pm with additional information about the devices that will receive the update.

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