Today following its yearly I/O developer keynote, Google has announced that Google TV is moving to Android Jelly Bean (version 4.2.2) and the latest version of Chrome (26). Google says existing Google TVs will “start to receive updates in the coming months.”
For manufacturers, Google says it is “refactoring” it’s update cycle so “partners can update to future versions of Android in a matter of weeks rather than months.” This will clearly make the platform more attractive to developers — it needs all the help it can get. The same goes for Chrome, which will now be updated every six weeks on Google TV, just like it is on other platforms.
Google was quick to point out that developers will now be able to “build TV experiences using the latest Android APIs, including the NDK.” Additionally, Chrome for Google TV is receiving “support for hardware-based content protection, enabling developers to provide premium TV content in HD within their web apps. ”
As for upcoming hardware, Google remained rather vague, and simply said “we expect to see new [Google TV] devices launched later this year.”
Google TV has gone through a curious evolution since launching back in October 2010, but throughout this time, the general mission of bringing Web-based entertainment (like Netflix, YouTube) and Google search technology to your television has remained unchanged.
Logitech’s Revue was the first Google TV device announced, but the launch ended up being a complete and utter flop. In fact, Logitech even went as far as admitting that the Revue “was a big mistake.” Nevertheless, new iterations of Google TV have since been released, the latest being the Asus Qube and Netgear’s NeoTV Prime — both announced earlier this year.
Google arrived early to the connected TV game, along with companies like Boxee and Roku, but the space is now more competitive than ever: the Apple TV continues to sell extremely well, Microsoft’s next Xbox is said to offer more general entertainment features, Amazon is reportedly planing to release a set-top box for video streaming, and then there’s the Samsung Smart TV and the Smart TV Alliance, which includes LG, Toshiba and Panasonic.
Right now, Google is surely hoping its third generation of devices fares better than its first, but this space is clearly only getting more crowded. What’s worse is that Google appears to be moving Google TV to hobby status, which won’t be very encouraging for curious developers or consumers.
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