All right. So, here we go.
You take off a week, and the Internet television world goes nuts. Amazon and Google, your two favorite Internet destinations that aren’t named “Apple (something),” or “i(something),” have decided to ascend from the depths of their respective caves to cause a ruckus about this whole cutting-the-cord thing (note to reader: replace the word “something” with anything from “Pod” to “Toilet,” and … well, you know what I mean). A whole lot has happened, and there’s oh-so-little time to digest it. We’ll start with the latest and work our way back. Sean Hollister, of The Verge, how do you do?
“According to documents obtained exclusively by The Verge, Google is about to launch a renewed assault on your television set called Android TV,” he wrote April 5. “Android TV will look and feel a lot more like the rest of the set top boxes on the market, including Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Roku. Google’s new vision for Android TV is less ambitious and easier to understand. The company is calling for developers to build extremely simple TV apps for an extremely simple set-top-box interface.”
Silly Google. Web TV is for …
… Well, not just kids, but pretty much everyone else who already has a stranglehold on the medium.
Now, a lesser man might use this as the moment he refers back to how unsuccessful Google TV has been during its previous ventures. And a lesser man might be inclined to reference this paragraph he wrote all the way back in July:
“Google is nothing if not persistent. And at this point, the company is testing that whole ‘persistency pays off’ adage like it’s a nuclear waste site. Wednesday, everybody’s favorite oddly named Internet search engine emerged from the wake of Google TV to introduce … wait for it … Chromecast, a tiny stick that can plug into televisions. In short, it looks like a jump drive and it enables viewers to check out online programming through their TVs. Who says the 89th time isn’t a charm?”
But I … But I …
All right. Color me lesser.
Anyway, Google is coming back! And not just “coming back,” per se, but “coming back!” Yes. Note the exclamation point.
Android TV, the “Godfather 3” to Chromecast’s “Godfather 2” (in case you were wondering, Roku is “The Godfather” and Apple TV is “Taxi Driver”), is in the works, and the works are meant to be celebrated. Or, well, somewhat celebrated, at least.
The most intriguing first word? No more type-searching. Instead of heading over to Hulu to look up last night’s “Saturday Night Live,” it wants you to turn the thing on and see “Saturday Night Live” as an option. “Proactive” is the word Hollister uses and, for all its good intentions, still makes me cringe a bit. “Oh, so because I watched ‘Late Night With Seth Meyers’ to see a Kanye West interview, now you think I want to watch ‘South Park’?! You don’t know me!”
(For the record, that was my imaginary conversation with an Android TV.)
Another headline-making feature incorporates a function the brand-spankin’-new Amazon Fire TV also offers (seriously, doesn’t it feel like this blog hasn’t been updated for months?!): Voice control. Let’s go to you, Brier Dudley, who is referenced here due only to the fact that I’ve never read a thing written by someone with the first name Brier …
“The Fire TV’s best trick is voice search built into its Apple-esque remote control,” he wrote. “You press and hold a button and say the name of a movie or actor, and the system usually figures out what you want. Except when I searched for ‘Serpico,’ it always thought I was looking for ‘cervical.'”
Dan Seifert, also of The Verge, seemed to enjoy his first go-around with the Fire TV, despite noting that the voice command system isn’t quite ideal. “Voice, Schmoice!” he implied. “The gaming is awesome!”
Again, with the exclamation points.
As he tells it, the Fire TV gives you video games with more detailed graphics and something that looks like an actual video game controller (for an extra 40 bucks, of course). Apparently, it also offers something akin to the game “Halo.” No. I don’t know what “Halo” is. And no. I don’t want to know what “Halo” is.
Still, the gaming aspect seems to be a pretty good addition for Those Who Care About Gaming. Add in the fact that it comes pre-loaded with everything you previously purchased through Amazon’s digital platforms, and you have a pretty enticing product to consider. Though, because I don’t buy many things digitally (until tonight, when I sit down with Sunday’s season premiere of “Mad Men”!), I don’t “game,” as it were, and, well, I’m madly in love with my Roku, I’ll be passing on the Fire TV for the immediate future, at least.
But even with all of that said, the addition of it into the Ring Of Internet Television reasserts the medium as an exciting, if not overly crowded, niche of alternative television consumption products from which there are now many to choose. And assuming Google can unleash its next attempt at Web TV domination sooner rather than later, it’s highly likely that we’re going to have ourselves a good, old-fashioned backyard brawl on our hands by the time Apple finally decides to wake up and work its way into the living room for good.
No wonder Internet advertising dollars eclipsed broadcast television revenue for the first time ever last year!
Yeah, I know. I’ve had it with the exclamation points, too. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go experiment with question marks.