Thu. Jul 2nd, 2020

Google’s Nest Android TV streaming dongle and remote, plus more tech news today

It's our best look yet at Google's next streaming device with remote, plus more tech news today.

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Wednesday, June 3. 

1. Best look at Google’s new Nest Android TV streaming dongle

Google’s plans for a new Chromecast device have been out there for a few weeks. 9to5Google got the early drop, and Protocol later revealed it’ll likely be sold under Nest branding, with a content-centric user interface.

It looks more clear than ever that where Google played it safe with simple casting in the past, it’s now getting into the streaming device game proper, complete with a remote.

The news:

  • Via XDA Developers, renders show the upcoming Google Android TV streaming device and remote, codename Sabrina.
  • And the report is that it’s an Android TV-powered dongle, which is quite different for Google itself, despite providing Android TV to many other brands and TVs before.
  • What that means is that instead of casting from a laptop or phone, or asking Google Assistant to do it for you (try “Hey Google, play Breaking Bad on Netflix on the TVâ€� and see if it works, by the way), there’ll now be a remote and software interface, focusing on content.
  • No need to juggle a phone and hitting the right button: nobody really wants that, and normal people just want to scroll and click into their app from a remote like they always have. Plus, it’s positive for accessibility.
  • Reports are it’ll be under $80, and the Nest brand now used for Google smart devices may be extended to the Chromecast line.

Why Android TV?:

  • With a software and UI layer on Android TV, the new device should let you install apps like Netflix or Disney Plus from the Google Play Store
  • Think of it like a Roku or Fire TV stick.
  • And while we’re talking Android TV, Google may rebrand the name to Google TV, a name it has used before and changed.

Design and remote:

  • While it is interesting to see the apparent renders of the device from XDA, it’s just a puck you plug into your HDMI port.
  • The remote is more interesting, as this image from a marketing video shows. (Note the marketing video was dated October 2019, so things may have changed)

  • The Google Assistant button is very prominent right near the top, implying a microphone in the remote. The touch dial in the entire top third gives the remote a distinct look, and there’s likely IR capabilities too for making the remote all-in-one for the gear you already own.
  • Will Google include dedicated buttons for Netflix and Amazon Prime that seem to be part of TV maker agreements? Maybe those are hidden in that image, given there’s also no volume controls.
  • It may also support Google Stadia, too, rather than relying on again juggling your phone to scroll through games: you can just do it on your TV.
  • If it does take Stadia into account, we can also hope the device has an Ethernet adaptor to support a wired internet both for gaming and better ping, plus faster load times of normal streaming content.

Competition:

  • Google isn’t exactly early to the game. From Apple TV to Fire TV to Roku Streaming Stick, and TVs with smart functionality built-in, loads of people have an option available to them. Here are 13 examples, some of which include soundbars that also stream.
  • For what it’s worth, the Nvidia Shield is probably the best of the Android TV world that I’ve seen with its beefy processor, upscaling, and gaming capabilities.
  • And as for smart TVs, well, many many TVs billed as smart are not smart, or fun. On the budget-end especially, they have appalling speeds and minimal processing power, with long delays when you try to do anything on most budget sets, or a terrible UI, or zero updates to support new services. There’s a lack of codecs and containers, too. I could go on!
  • Excruciatingly, many want you to connect just to serve you ads, as I wrote about back in December. Manufacturers sell you a cheap set, and sell surprising amounts of your data, too.
  • Google (a noted data gathering and advertising platform company!) has had more passive devices until now, despite dominating video with YouTube.
  • It’s provided the Android TV platform but only sold Chromecasts without a UI.
  • It makes sense that Google would join in if it thinks it can do better, even if it hasn’t until now. That’s partly been because Google is a huge threat to the likes of cable companies and networks, which blocked the first iteration of Google TV back in 2010, and have worked to stop Google from rewiring television.
  • Google plays that game itself too, stopping Amazon’s competitor smart TV platform efforts.

2. OnePlus is making a jacket? Sure, why not (Android Authority).


3. Google pulls ‘Remove China Apps’ from Play Store, as India-China tensions continue to rise (Android Authority).


4. E3 2020 replacement schedule: How to catch the biggest game reveals of the year. Note the Cyberpunk 2077 Night City Wire livestream will now occur June 25th. (Android Authority). (Android Authority).


5.  Lawsuit accuses Google of tracking users in Incognito mode (Engadget).


6. Report: Fourth-generation iPad Air to switch to USB-C, iPad Mini sticking with Lightning. For now, only the iPad Pro uses USB-C (9to5Mac).


7. Study from real-world web traffic (via a *wild* opt-in research group where users sign up and share their full browser history) shows that only around a third of users changed their passwords following an announced data breach (ZDNet).


8. Apple’s iCloud service had downtime last night, worrying people that thought they’d been hacked as they couldn’t log in. It’s now working again (9to5Mac).


9. Microsoft ain’t messing around as it tries to crush Zoom and Slack in a battle for your work computer. Yesterday I was reminded Yammer still exists, which MS spent $1.2 billion on in 2012. Yammer! (WSJ, $).


10. “Why galaxies are flat? Why there are no spherical galaxies but only disc-shaped galaxies?� (r/askscience).


11.

Sega’s Game Gear Micro is new, only in Japan, and for some reason is featured prominently on many good and serious tech sites.

Let me explain what it is and maybe we can figure out why that is.

  • It has a 1.15-inch screen, and runs on 2 AAA batteries.
  • You can buy one of four colors, and each has four games built-in, that’s it.
  • So, each color has four different games: the black console has Sonic the Hedgehog, Puyo Puyo 2, Out Run, and Royal Stone.
  • The blue variant includes Sonic Chaos, Gunstar Heroes, Sylvan Tale, Baku Baku Animal. Red and yellow have other games.
  • Sega wants you to buy all four, which is Not Cool. And if you do, you can go for all four in a $250 pack, which gives you the mini version of the classic Big Window magnifying-glass accessory.
  • It is Sega’s 60th anniversary and I guess throwbacks make sense…but again, it is Japan only, for now.
  • All in all, this is strange and confusing. No one should buy this. The idea of a small hand-held and cheap console that just works is still a good idea.
  • This ain’t it.

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