Google’s big developer conference, Google I/O, is not until next month. However, we may already begin to get an idea of what they’re announcing, at least in terms of Android TV. This recently snapped photo at an electronics conference shows the first iteration of Google Touch for Android TV. The long name immediately gives away its purpose: Android TV will be gaining touch pretty soon, turning your TV into a large tablet (or a very large phone (or a slightly large laptop that has a touchscreen)).
As seen by the photo, NVIDIA has been working closely with Google not only on the television itself, which is rumored to be called the Pixel View, but on the underlying technology that will enable ten-finger multitouch on these large screens for a fraction of the current price. NVIDIA’s secret hasn’t been revealed yet, but they’ll be talking about something they’ve dubbed Ultrasonic Infrared which is supposed to make it all possible.
The Pixel View will also include a USB type-C connection, allowing you to plug in your phone to charge or immediately mirror the phone’s display. (A continuum-like feature is currently unavailable due to small but significant differences in the phone and TV platforms according to a Google spokesperson).
Not everyone is in the market for a brand-new TV, and so Google Touch will also be available as an accessory that can work with existing TVs. Google Touch is the name of the technology and the hardware. When it is connected, Google Play will show a new category called “Touch”. For the moment, I’ve heard the feature is internally simply named “Why”.
The accessory unlocks a barrier for developers getting their apps on TV. “Yeah, we were really unsure how to add remote control commands to an app,” said one developer who just participated in the demo. “But now that we can bring the same touch controls and gestures, it means we can reduce our workload. In fact, we can probably fire a few people.” The developer neglected to mention who would be laid off. The Google spokesperson later said, “We didn’t want anyone to get fired.”
Google is working with a few game developers to highlight how developers can optimize their games for the TV. Cut the Rope is one prominent game that will be seeing a major update in the summer to add TV touchscreen support. Google will also be discussing Android O next month, so it’s likely there’ll be plenty of integration.