Google is rebooting its ambitions in the living room, launching Android TV. "In some ways, the TV space is not much different to the mobile space in 2006," Google pointed out, with smart TVs all having different interfaces, different sets of apps, and no cohesive ways for developers to create one app for all platforms. Android TV aims to change all that.
The smart TV scene may be increasingly the preserve of affordable set-top boxes like Chromecast and Fire TV, but LG isn't giving up on its webOS plans, pushing out the tools it hopes will encourage developers to get onboard. Freshly released, the webOS TV SDK will allow developers to cook up apps for LG's sets, test them on a TV emulator, and then package them up for distribution to the new app store.
Apple TV has seen another update, bringing ABC News as well as several other new or updated sources to the set-top box. Although ABC already had its Watch ABC app for Apple TV as of December last year, the new app does not require a cable account in order to use it, with live and on-demand content served up for free.
Samsung has boosted its Ultra HD TV range, including a pair of curved sets and a sizable 85-inch model for those with big living rooms. The new 85-inch HU8550 Series TV is the largest in its product line - though not the largest UHD TV Samsung actually offers, which is a whopping 110-inches - while the HU7250 Series brings curved UHD to a $2,200 price point, with what the company claims is a broader "sweet spot" for viewers.
Dolby has brought its fancy new surround technology first to the cinemas and then to mobile devices. Now the audio experts are bringing Atmos back to a bigger screen again, but this time, the kind that fits in your living room. You heard that right, pun unintended. Dolby is bringing Atmos to your home so that you can enjoy all the audio goodness that the technology has to offer, right from the comfort of your couch.
A streaming media dongle to take on Google's Chromecast but running Mozilla's Firefox OS has been caught in the wild, taking what so far has been focused on smartphone form-factors into the living room instead. The market for streaming hardware has flourished over the past twelve months, with Google helping drive down prices with its $35 Chromecast, while Amazon challenged Apple TV with its voice-navigated Fire TV.
YouTube's apparent attack on independent artists and labels refusing to concede to its new premium subscription music contract may not see the Google-owned service take their videos down: it'll just cut off their income stream. Reports earlier this week suggested YouTube was taking a heavy-handed approach to some big-name indie artists, threatening to pull their content if they didn't sign up to what insiders claimed were unfair terms.
Things have been quiet from media streamers Slingbox of late, but thanks to the FCC we've got a glimpse of a new model, the Slingbox M1, which looks set to release soon. Packing WiFi connectivity in a compact footprint, the M1 will presumably continue Sling's tradition of placeshifting video, taking content you already have access to in one location, such as through a cable PVR, and squirting it elsewhere in the home or to various mobile apps.
In order to expand the reach of its integrated entertainment system, Logitech is announcing a software upgrade for both its Harmony Ultimate remote control and Harmony Smart Control app. Now these two controllers can let users sift through their Sonos playlists or search for streaming content, right from the comfort of their couch.