CES 2014: Android comes to smart TV with Philips

TP Vision -- a joint venture between TPV and Philips -- used the CES event in Las Vegas to announce that they would soon market TVs running the Android OS. The idea is to bring the wealth of applications available on Google Play to Philips' future Ambilight Smart TVs as early as Q2 2014 in Europe.

After staking a claim in the smartphone and tablet software sector, Android is getting ready to come to the smart TV market. The future Android TVs, in addition to offering Philips' current Smart TV features, will provide access to Google Play and its multiple apps, as well as VOD services, digital program guides and even a music player.

The use of the Android OS in TVs also facilitates convergence with smartphones and tablets running the same OS, potentially simplifying content sharing across devices. Combined with the new quad-core processor coming to the brand's next TVs, Android will provide a platform for online gaming, allowing users to enjoy the games available through Google Play on a larger screen. "By 2015 already, the majority of our Smart TVs will be Android powered," declared TP Vision CEO Maarten de Vries.

Other manufacturers are expected to follow TP Vision's lead, and the smart TV software battle promises to be a fierce one. Also at CES, LG unveiled webOS, the platform designed to power its future smart TVs. The new proprietary OS will allow users to download multiple games, apps (YouTube, Skype, Facebook, Twitter) and videos (through Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, or Netflix) -- all directly to the TV. Around 70 percent of LG Smart TVs produced in 2014 will be equipped with WebOS.

Samsung, meanwhile, has announced Smart Home, an update to its Smart TV platform enabling developers to integrate apps for household appliances. This means that in addition to offering recommendations and a host of downloadable apps, Samsung's Smart TV will soon allow users to control the settings of virtually any connected appliance in their homes -- lighting systems, thermostats, refrigerators, robotic vacuums -- through a dedicated app.

Something of a dark horse in the race, the Firefox OS will soon power a few smart TV models produced by Panasonic, although no details have been revealed on which specific models are concerned or when they will hit the market. The main question now is what Apple and Microsoft have in store in this emerging sector, which is destined to be a lucrative one.