There is some exciting news out of Silicon Valley this morning. The Washington Post is reporting that Google is working on a new gaming console based on Android. Additional projects that Google is developing include a smartwatch and the second (and hopefully) refined version of Nexus Q, the Android powered streaming media device.
Android’s dominant OS marketshare is making Google use the momentum that its mobile stack is generating and push hardware products. Gaming on Android was in a sad state some two years ago compared to the iPhone and the iPad with respect to popular apps and the inconsistency in hardware, due to Android being free to install on variety of devices. These days, many of the games are now on Android and gaming on Jelly Bean is much smoother in part due to Project Butter. Google might also have picked up a hint from the popularity that independent gaming console ‘Ouya’ has received. Ouya started shipping yesterday after a fairly challenging development cycle. Although, the feedback on this console has been that its UI needs refinement, all other aspects are positive, starting with the price, the growing Indie developer interest and the DRM free leanings of the console. Google must have realized that it could deliver these features themselves and own the gaming console space that is taken up popular proprietary consoles like Playstation, Xbox and Wii. Android has huge potential for being an open platform to serve games on.
This also means that Google’s new gaming system will come with the next iteration of Android, rumored to be named Key Lime Pie. We can assumed that this version will come with advanced gaming support, for users and developers. The Nexus Q which was immediately recalled by Google, citing that the product was incomplete, will also see a second release. The Nexus Q has a futuristic design and its job is the be the primary hub that handles streaming of content from all Android devices that you may have. We are looking forward to it because it seems to be handy wireless solution for content playback on multiple devices, which is always a good thing. The final product which Google is supposedly working on is the Smartwatch. Here again, Google is taking inspiration from another Indie project that has been very popular on Kickstarter. Called the Pebble, it is a simple digital display watch which syncs with your phone and has the capability to run apps. The possibilities of such a setup are immense, when it comes to the way we interact with our devices. You will not have to reach out for your phone to do every little thing (major annoyance these days BTW!). You could possibly answer calls, read SMS, see app notifications, record voice messages, use Google Now etc. This actually seems like a comfortable way to interact with technology.
These developments hold particular significance as far as Google’s hardware efforts are concerned. Glass, Gaming console, Chromebooks, Nexus Q, the smartwatch etc. are massive hardware projects for a company which is considered a super successful software giant. Of course, software is still at the heart of Google, but their recent hardware push seems to point to a direction of a seamless ecosystem. This is also the exact same path that Microsoft and Apple are taking but have less potential for success compared to Google. Google excels in software and is making reasonable strides in ensuring hardware quality. Software is also Microsoft’s forte and their new devices route is good, but Microsoft has lost much due to its inertia in the previous years. The only strong contender in this is Apple. Apple makes excellent hardware but its web efforts come nowhere close to Google’s scale. It should also be noted that these new efforts are risky for Google, which has never predominantly dealt with hardware when it comes to pros like Apple, Sony etc. and it remains to see how this will pan out for the company.
We would love to hear what you think about these developments. Do share your thoughts in the comments.