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Google Just Announced Its Master Plan To Own TV

Dave Burke, director of engineering at Android, speaks about Android TV during the Google I/O 2014 keynote presentation in San Francisco.

You love your Android phone. But will you love your Android TV?

Google seems to think so. The company recently announced Android TV, an operating system for Internet-connected televisions, game consoles and set-top boxes.

Like Android, the mobile operating system that Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola and many other companies use to power their smartphones, Android TV will be available for manufacturers to integrate into their own hardware. Google said that TVs from Sharp, Sony and TP Vision, as well as set-top boxes from Asus and Razr, will run on Android TV.

TVs “are becoming computing devices in their own right,” Dave Burke, senior engineering director for Android at Google, told a crowd gathered in San Francisco for the company’s annual developers’ conference Wednesday. “So we see a great opportunity to bring some of the strong capabilities of Android, such as voice input, UI and content, to the largest screen in your house.”

Google’s announcement comes as the largest technology companies battle for control of your living room. In April, Amazon unveiled Fire TV, a $99 set-top box that people can also use to play games. Roku, a company that has made set-top boxes for years, announced in January that it had licensed its own platform to Hisense and TCL, two Chinese TV manufacturers. An update to Apple TV, which has been out since 2007, is expected soon, and rumors of an Apple-made TV have been circulating for years.

Android TV is not Google’s first attempt to tackle television. Earlier tries included Google TV and the Nexus Q, both of which were unsuccessful. Much more successful is Chromecast, the $35 dongle that Google announced last year. In the 12 months that ended in May, Chromecast accounted for nearly 40 percent of the U.S. sales of devices that attach to your TV to provide online content, according to NPD Group, a market research company.

Android TV integrates live TV from cable boxes, showing at the top of the screen the channel and information about what’s playing. To access Internet-connected apps like Netflix, or to download movies, a viewer can press “home” on her smartphone or remote.

Like other smart TVs and set-top boxes, Android TV’s programming and apps are presented in a tiled grid. Customers can scroll to access apps like Netflix, iHeartRadio and the Google Play store, which sells music, movies and TV, or else go back to watching live television.

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