Android is market leader on the smartphone and is also doing pretty well on the tablet. Strangely enough Googles attempts to get Android on your TV screen haven’t been really successful so far. 2013 is the year in which this is all about to change and Android will hit a TV screen near you, but it might not be Google TV.
Android is a great platform for Smart TVs and Google paired up with some solid partners when creating Google TV. But after more than 2 years market penetration is still very low and Google and its partners can’t be satisfied.
Yes, even the latest Google TV version only runs Android 3.2 (aka Honeycomb) with a limited set of apps available. And until recently you only had 5 devices to choose from (mainly produced by Sony and LG). But in 2013 the amount of devices that will run Google TV is about to go way up. Also new services and apps will be added to Google TV making it even more interesting.
LG will extend its range of Google TV enabled televisions with 7 new models giving you a lot more options to choose from. But also a new player enters the Google TV market. Asus unveiled their new Qube this week at CES.
The Qube is a cube shaped (you wouldn’t have guessed) Google TV device that comes with 50 GB of web storage and has Netflix and Amazon direct video support. It will also feature motion gesture based remote control of the UI and games. A very interesting addition to the Google TV landscape.
But the major push for Android TV probably isn’t coming from Google or its Google TV partners. Several other companies have recognized the powerful combination of Android and television as well but didn’t like the limitations of Google TV. This resulted in a range a pretty interesting devices which have already been released or will be soon.
First came the Chinese with a whole range of Android TV sticks, like the iMito MX1 I reviewed last week. This is the cheapest way to turn your television into an Android smart TV. But Android TV sticks aren’t for the average consumer and don’t help a lot in putting Android on the Smart TV map.
A device that does help to make Android popular as a Smart TV platform is the Ouya. This kickstarter backed device raised 9 times the money needed to start development and will be released March this year. The Ouya game console combines great design with very good hardware specs and it runs one of the latest versions of Android. No need to tell you this will also do really well as an Android Smart TV device for streaming your videos or keeping in touch with friends and family.
But the real Android Smart TV device ready for the masses is the Archos TV Connect which will be available next month. The design is not as elegant as that of the Ouya and the hardware is less powerful but it is released by a well-known company that knows what it takes to make and sell good consumer electronics.
With the TV Connect Archos aims at the average consumer instead of gamers. The unique remote control functions as both a keyboard and a game controller. It even let’s you do multi-touch gestures like on your phone or tablet. The device runs Android Jelly Bean and has full access the Google Play. So plenty of ingredients for a nice Android Smart TV experience.
As you can see 2013 will be a really important year for Android as a Smart TV platform. With more big companies joining the game and a whole range of new products to choose from things are looking bright. Hopefully all these new developments can do what Google failed to do so far: put Android on your TV screen.