Google may be going with Android TV instead.
An unnamed consumer electronics manufacturer that has produced Google TV products recently told GigaOM that Google has quietly dropped the Smart TV platform's name. Members of the original Google TV team have reportedly stopped using that label when talking about their work, and a recent developer event in Seoul was officially called "Android TV Developer Day". Some associated developers have even changed their online biographies to match what could be the platform's new name: Android TV.
The site points out that Sony didn't mention the fact that its new Bravia TV stick used Google TV, but instead announced that the device "brings the full power of Google services to your TV." Even last month STMicroelectronics said that the new SDK for its set-top box processors would support "the latest Google services for TV". LG also recently revealed new Android devices that had access to the "latest Google services for TV" without mentioning the Google TV name.
The terms "Android TV' and "Google services for TV" indicate that the company may not have a final brand for its TV efforts. The company may also decide to use a variety of brands depending on the target audience. Currently there's no information regarding when Google will officially announce the switch, but there's a good chance this will happen with the release of its rumored set-top-box supposedly running a version of "Google TV" based on the latest Android build.
Google TV was first introduced in October 2010, and was based on Android 2.1. The platform didn't enter Honeycomb territory until December 2011 with the Android 3.1 upgrade, and then Android 3.2 in June 2012. The platform is reportedly set to upgrade to Android 4.2 in 3Q 2013, with LG updating its Google TV devices later this month followed by other manufacturers in the coming months. This update is said to allow developers to use the same APIs available on Android tablets and phones.
There's speculation that Google TV partners will have immediate access to Android 4.4 "KitKat", which is expected to arrive as early as next week (to steal some of the spotlight away from Microsoft and Windows 8.1, no doubt). Google previously indicated that after upgrading to Android 4.2, Google TV device makers will be able to easily move up to Android 4.4. Naturally upgrades to either Android 4.2 or 4.4 will be at the manufacturer's discretion.
Back in July, sources said that Google privately revealed a set-top-box during CES 2013 that was 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.
Perhaps then, as seen with Chromecast, Google may believe its TV efforts should be solidified in stand-alone products rather than serve as a Smart TV operating system. Set-top solutions like Vizio's Co-Star seem to be doing rather well, but Google TV still hasn't become a household name like Roku and TiVo. Vizio CTO Matt McRae even told GigaOM earlier this year that Google TV devices may end up ditching live TV to be more like a Roku box.