After trying to establish the Chromecast and later Chromecast Ultra as affordable, flexible streaming devices, the company is now focused on pushing Android TV into more living rooms. According to 9to5Google, Google is currently working on a follow-up to the Chromecast Ultra. But this time, Android TV will be the software that powers it. And like its main competitors — Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV — Google will now bundle a remote with the device.
Instead of presenting customers with menus and built-in streaming apps (like Netflix) as Roku and Amazon do, the Chromecast has always relied on consumers taking the step to cast audio and video content from their mobile phones or computers to Google’s streaming dongle. Apps were quick to add Chromecast support, so this strategy offered plenty of choice — and some appreciated its simplicity. But there was a learning curve involved for those who were more accustomed to traditional TV interfaces.
The switch to Android TV shouldn’t result in any lost functionality; you’re able to cast content to Android TV devices just as you can with a Chromecast. More importantly, the richer Android TV experience will allow Google to better integrate other services like Google Assistant voice search to help people find something to watch. (That’s where the remote comes in.) This sort of thing is table stakes for other streaming gadgets, but has gone ignored by Chromecast.
Aside from powering streaming players like the Nvidia Shield, Android TV is also built into many TVs from companies including Sony. Verizon, AT&T, and other TV service providers have also recently launched set-top boxes that run Android TV. Google says over 160 TV providers are now using Android TV in some fashion.
Backing up 9to5Google’s report is the fact that a Google-made remote just passed through the FCC. Credit to Protocol’s Janko Roettgers for spotting that one. Late last year, Google announced its latest Android TV developer device, and it too comes with a remote control. And there have been rumors of the company producing a flagship consumer device.