One of the coolest things that Microsoft showed off during its E3 press conference this week was SmartGlass. In essence, it allows any mobile device to share information with the Xbox 360 in a meaningful way to deliver content both ways for games and movies. It's an evolution of Apple's AirPlay that allows mobile Apple devices to stream content to Apple TV.
This is all to say that Google is now jumping into the over the air streaming from mobile devices to televisions. It's unfortunate, however, that the company is not pulling a Microsoft by reinventing the wheel. They seem perfectly content with just copying what Apple has done, just with an Android twist.
Speaking to Computerworld, set-top box maker Honeywld Technology said that the upcoming Google TV set-top box will enable Android 4.0 devices to stream content to the set-top box. Just like with AirPlay, Android users will have to install an application that will enable the streaming functionality.
Honeywld was showing off its new Android 4.0 set-top box this week at Computex. It features 4GB of flash storage, 1GB of DDR3 RAM and a microSD slot. As for ports, it features an ethernet and HDMI video out. Just like Apple TV, it will also feature wi-fi.
The key difference from past Google TVs is that Intel is no longer making the processors that power the devices. Just like every other device that's not a high-powered PC these days, ARM will be supplying a Cortex-A9 processor that runs a customized version of Ice Cream Sandwich.
While the Honeywld set-top boxes will begin shipping in Taiwan next month, the company will not be able to ship them worldwide. The company hopes that a third-party distributor picks up the device for international sale. Regardless, we should start seeing Android 4.0 Google TV set-top boxes arriving on store shelves in the third quarter of this year.
It's unfortunate to see Google and its partners putting in all this work into the next round of Google TVs, while putting the bare minimum amount of effort into the software behind it. I'm sure people will appreciate Google's version of AirPlay, but the bar has been raised after SmartGlass. I'm sure Apple is not far behind in their own version of interactive television so Google better step up their game if they want Google TV to have a firm grip on the living room.