There's a good chance we'll see Google's set-top box at CES 2014 next month.
The latest rumor surrounding Google's set-top TV box is that the device may be called "Nexus TV" and arrive in the first half of 2014. This set-top-box will reportedly run Android, stream video from the heavy hitters like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus and more, and even play Android games.
Back in June there was talk that Google was working on its own Android console. Sources said that Google had been keeping a close eye on OUYA, Nvidia's Shield, GameStick and other Android consoles emerging in 2013. This device would presumably offer other Google services like Play Music, Play Movies and third-party services like Netflix and Hulu.
Then in July, sources claimed that during CES 2013, Google privately revealed a set-top-box based on Android and provided Hangouts as a core feature. The device also had a built-in video camera, a motion sensor, and full access to Google Play. Users could stream YouTube videos, watch TV shows and supposedly even play games. Netflix and Pandora were also mentioned.
Sources told the New York Times that Google actually reignited its streaming TV service plans, and reportedly approached media companies in recent months about streaming their traditional TV programming. In one case, Google even demonstrated the product, meaning the streaming TV plan was more than just a concept on paper.
The latest rumor claims that the set-top-box will not support live broadcast TV after all, indicating that the company may have faced the same roadblocks encountered by Intel, who is reportedly trying to sell off its own streaming TV project; Apple's rumored iTV plans have also reportedly faced the same issues. If the report is true, then Google is merely trying to compete with Apple TV and Amazon's own rumored Firetube set-top box.
Finally, in October there was talk that Google dropped the Google TV name altogether, and was planning to upgrade the platform to Android 4.2. This update was said to allow developers to use the same APIs available on Android tablets and phones. There was also speculation that Google TV partners would have immediate access to a more TV-friendly Android 4.4 "KitKat."
Right now, all hardware partners are using the "Google services for TV" label. Making a "Nexus" set-top box would make sense for the company, and a way for Google to reach out to iPad owners who are not keen on buying a new tablet, but want access to Google Play services. Developers would also have a solid platform to optimize their apps for the big screen, free of restrictions imposed by other ODMs.
Currently, Google's other living-room based product, Chromecast, is reportedly doing well. The device could be seen as a stepping stone of sorts, allowing owners to push content to their HDTV like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora and tabs in the Chrome browser. A Nexus TV product would be considered as a "deluxe" model with a full set of features.