Android@home could rival Apple AirPlay

by Kristen Nicole

One area in which Google has yet to catch up with Apple is home entertainment. That may soon change, as Google is reportedly working on an Android-based home music system called Android@home. Such a system would likely be among the first products to come out of Project Tungsten, which Google demonstrated at their I/O conference last spring. There, Google showed a tablet that could manage various aspects of the home, including turning lights on and off, sending music from the Internet to a hi-fi, and speakers laced with an NFC chip to initiate music play.

As Mobile World Congress nears, rumors circling around a Google hardware launch have been on the rise. Earlier this week there was word of Google working on a pair of augmented reality goggles, as well as an unnamed entertainment device that accesses Wi-Fi and Blutooth-enabled devices. Already said to be testing in employees’ homes, an FCC filing for permission for Google to test in various U.S. cities has only fueled the rumor mill. Whether or not Google reveals anything at MWC, the company is also gearing up to take full advantage of the home hardware expertise from Motorola Mobility, an acquisition expected to finalize by next week.

Android pivotal for Google’s home play

Android’s been a central platform for the roll out of an entertainment ecosystem, offering an outlet to sell music, movies and books directly to consumers in the form of software. Expanding that ecosystem to include hardware would be an important development in Google’s efforts to own as much of the mobile stack as possible, competing with Apple at every level.

Launching its own hardware devices would also make Google less reliant on manufacturing partners like LG for products like Google TV. This was one of the fears Android OEMs had to consider when Google first announced its plans to acquire Motorola, and besides a massive patent padding, the inclusion of Motorola under Google’s umbrella could bring Android much deeper into the home.