So, it has been a busy week for all things Google. Well, that is all things Google except Android TV. Although the availability of the Xiaomi Mi box was announced just before Google’s October 4 event kicked off, the actual event itself did not bring anything Android TV-related. Which is somewhat surprising when you consider that this event was very much hardware-focused.
However, that is not to say that there was not anything for Android TV folk to get their teeth into. One of the products which did see its launch as part of the event was Google Home and this is one which while not being an Android TV device does certainly have a knock-on effect for Android TV. In fact, if you were ever wondering as to where Google sees the future of Android TV, Google Home seems to be providing part of the answer.
This is thanks to Google Home’s ability to connect to all of your other home devices and especially those which are Google-related, like Android TV. One of the key benefits of Google Home is that it has the power to be able to add another level of functionality to your Google devices and both Android TV boxes and TV sets (as well as Chromecasts) fall under that remit. Google Home will be able to connect to those devices and offer an easier level of control. While your Android TV box already makes use of voice commands, the one downside is that you have to typically speak into the remote or your phone. Google Home will not only offer you a totally hands-free approach to controlling aspects of your Android TV, but it can really do all the legwork for you.
While the main announcement spoke almost primarily about Chromecast, the same support will naturally be available to Android TV. So whether you own a Chromecast or an Android TV device, Google Home will offer a new way to engage with your device at home. The use of what Google refers to as ‘voice casting’ means that controlling an Android TV device or Chromecast has never been easier. Simply ask Google Home to play something on your Android TV device and it will. In fact, as Google Home makes use of Google Assistant, contextual questions can also be asked. If you don’t know the name of a song, you can still ask Google Home to play a song based on the information you do know about it and Google Home will comply.
However, where the use of Google Home with Android TV gets even more interesting is that this is only the beginning. At the moment the support for voice casting is a little limited and largely reserved for Google’s own services like YouTube. But that will change in due course. In fact, during the event Google also made the announcement that Netflix has already signed up to include support for voice casting with their app.
So being able to load up and watch content on Netflix will soon be accessible from Google Home. Just tell Google Home to start playing Narcos on your NVIDIA SHIELD or your Mi Box and it will. Tell Google Home to adjust the volume, skip forward, play pause or turn off and it will. All without using the remote control or the app. True voice control.
Not to mention with the likes of Netflix now part of the clan, it does only feel a matter of time before other apps from content providers also follow suit. After all, this is just the beginning and already YouTube and Netflix are included. So the likes of Hulu, CBS and so on, can only be so far behind. Especially if they want Google to be able to redirect to their content. As one of the other specific features about Google Home is that it looks to make use of your preferences. So if you are a CBS or HBO app subscriber then including support for voice casting with their Android TV apps, does mean that their customers will get access to their content, quicker, easier and more often. Otherwise, Google Home is likely to be redirecting those same customers elsewhere. So support will come when the user base for Google Home starts building and the content providers really start to understand the added benefits, if they have not already.
From the cord-cutter perspective, this is even more pertinent as the features being touted are unlikely to be ones which are compatible with traditional forms of TV. So it is clear that from Google’s perspective, the momentum will come from the standalone app TV consumption market. Which in reality, seems to be a common belief from many within the Android TV community anyway. So as well as Google Home providing Android TV customers with an easier way to consume content on their Android TV devices, it does also seem to be a product which will likely help fuel the move further away from traditional TV content. At least, traditional forms of consuming content on your TV.