Nexus 6: how Google aims to conquer the living room

With its Nexus 6 phone, Nexus 9 tablet and Nexus Player set-top box, Google is taking on Apple TV and Amazon

Nexus 6
(Image credit: Google )

Google has launched a line of Nexus-branded products and accessories in a new push to bring phones, tablets, TV and gaming together into a single integrated system.

The Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet come with a range of gaming accessories, while the Nexus Player set-top box connects both those devices to a TV, providing access to online games, music and video.

Between them, the new devices comprise Google's "latest bid to get a foothold in the living room", says the BBC's technology desk editor Leo Kelion. So is the Nexus finally beginning to live up to its name?

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Phone, tablet, TV and gaming

Google narrowly got the jump on longtime rival Apple by releasing details of its new phone a day ahead of Apple's iPad Air 2 launch. The company unveiled a new Nexus phone built by Motorola and a new Nexus tablet built by HTC, both of which were praised by critics for their battery life, audio quality and "premium" materials.

But the most interesting part of the launch for many tech writers was the collection of peripheral devices that sit alongside the new phone and tablet, including a remote control, a gamepad, and the set-top box that brings everything together, called the Google Nexus Player.

An Android device that works with iPhones

The Google Nexus Player is a streaming media player developed by Google in association with Asus that allows users to watch TV, listen to music and play games straight from any Android, iOS or Chrome device using Google Cast. It comes as an upgrade to the company's popular Chromecast dongle, but unlike that device, the Google Nexus Player allows users to play games on their TV, not just stream videos and music.

One of the most significant features of the Nexus Player is that it is (relatively) device agnostic, notes PC Advisor, meaning that if you own any Android tablet or smartphone, an iOS device, a Mac or Windows machine or a Chromebook you will be able to use Google Cast to play content to your TV.

Will it work?

According Hiroshi Lockheimer, vice-president of Android engineering, Google has learnt a lot from its past mistakes. "On Google TV you could get a lot of apps, but a lot of the versions were just big tablet versions on a 50in screen that just didn't feel right," he explained.

"[Now] we're much more opinionated about what an app should look like on a TV set, so we've been working very closely with app developers in the TV and content space over the past months on optimising their applications. You'll see a much more focused set of applications that are higher quality."

But in spite of the changes, market analyst Ian Maude said he was sceptical about the new platform's prospects: "Google is going to keep trying with this, but that doesn't mean it's going to succeed," Maude told the BBC. "This doesn't look very different from Amazon's Fire TV or other devices out there - there's nothing that jumps out at you. And Google has an additional hurdle, which is that some broadcasters and TV manufacturers are particularly nervous about getting into bed with it because they fear being disintermediated - in other words undermined - because Google would now be controlling the interface."


Google has a fight on its hands if it is to outmuscle both Android Fire TV and Apple TV, both of which have loyal customers who are completely sold into their proprietary "ecosystem" of apps, games and devices.

The price of the device is also unlikely to be a deciding factor – the Nexus Player costs $99 in the US. But with Apple TV available in Walmart for $92 and the similar Roku Streaming Player for $89, Google's offering will be dearer than its rivals, rather than cheaper. Plus, buying the optional gamepad will cost a further $40.

UK pricing and availability has not yet been announced.

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