Silicon Dust Brings Live Television To Android TV

Dave Zatz —  June 25, 2014 — 26 Comments

During Google’s annual developer conference today, Android TV was formally introduced as the successor to Google TV. As conveyed to me at CES and scooped by GigaOm back in March, Android TV is pretty much what we expected — rather than an Android fork, this more or less features the core Android OS with a simplified leanback UI layered atop. While it remains to be seen if the world needs yet another television-based app platform, Sony, Asus, and others have signed on to produce both set-top boxes and smart TVs.

In Google’s favor, and in the wake of Aereo’s demise, is recruitment of Silicon Dust as an early partner. Via HDHomeRun network tuners, Android TV can access both live over-the-air or cable television programming. In fact, as worded, Google and Silicon Dust may actual expose these hooks to other developers for all sorts of interesting mashups (or DVR?):

SiliconDust is demonstrating its HomerunInput plugin enabling Live TV as a core component to Android TV’s platform. 

Related, in a brief email exchange with Silicon Dust’s CEO, I tried to pin them down on the possibility of a Roku app for those of us not quite sold on Google’s third attempt in this space. No response as of yet.

26 responses to Silicon Dust Brings Live Television To Android TV

  1. Anyone have an Amazon Fire TV or Logitech Revue and a HDHomeRun handy? I have the Silicon Dust apk… wondering how it fares on the earlier stuff.

  2. Will it be DTCP compliant? This would mean you could view copy-protected CableCard content, which would actually be very nice.

  3. I do have a Revue and an HDHomeRun…God only knows if I could find the Revue. I’ll reach out on Twitter if I can find it.

  4. Not sure on the details… I know the Prime is covered, but CEO is on travel and he’s sending super short emails from his Galaxy S5. :) We’d probably have better luck sideloading a Fire TV. I think I have a Prime boxed up in the basement, but I’m not tempting fate by pulling the CableCARD out of my TiVo… Wonder if Verizon sends anything clear QAM these days? Hm.

  5. I wonder if there is any SageTV inside this thing. Sure seems possible given some stuff I’ve seen.

  6. Brent, could be – Silicon Dust really isn’t know for the front end stuff. They did say they’ve been working closely with Google for over a year… Too bad the Sage alumni have gone radio silent.

  7. I have an Amazon Fire TV and an HDHomerun (version 2 and a new HDHomerunPlus)…

  8. Standby… I may save you guys the pain. Found the Prime. Will try to get it updated and running, hopefully pulling some clear QAM, and then see about sideloading the APK onto my Fire TV. All in the name of science!

  9. Look forward to seeing your results on that :)

  10. Dave, I have the regular Off-Air HDHR and FireTV if you are interested. I understand that the FireTV does not have hardware decoding of MPEG-2. Not sure if they put software decoding in that APK.

  11. Well I got the Prime picking up a few clear QAM stations, mainly the locals. However, the Fire TV doesn’t recognize this is as a valid .apk – so either something’s different with the new stuff or maybe the file is corrupt. It’s possible I’m also loading it wrong, but I was able to get an Xfinity app in there. Their language in calling it a ‘plugin’ makes me wonder. Hm.

    Steve, interesting thought on the decoding – given the existing iOS and Android apps, I assume they can sorta get it done via software (to mixed results).

  12. Looks like Prime is sold out or back ordered with most of their retailers. Dave know if a new model is in the pipe?

  13. I keep 1 of the three tuners on my prime available for streaming via an intermediate step with a small prog called wallop (https://github.com/maddox/wallop) there is a private channel for Roku that talks to it. works okay. I mainly use it in browser on ipad or PC when at the office.

  14. Brent, no collaboration with the Sage folks.

    James, CEO did state “future devices” when itemizing support for me…

    Ravi, yep that was the link I was provided. Not sure if it was meant for distribution, but obviously I was soliciting testers. Go crazy, people. :)

  15. @Dave Zatz & @Joseph I think that the premium channels (encrypted) channels should work. I just tried HBO using their current non AndTV android app on my Galaxy Nexus and it worked fine. Given that they’ve been working with google on this one logically it should work. This is of course no guarantee but the odds are in our favour.

    With this news I may end up buying another HDHomerun Prime and getting at least two Android TV’s because if it delivers on the live tv front I might never have to build another HTPC.

  16. Actually, FireTV’s SoC does support HW decode of MPEG2. XBMC has implemented HW decode and I’ve been able to stream from my PRIME and DUAL to XMBC on my FireTV. As far as the HomerunInput.apk, it seems it requires Android L.

  17. CEO circled back with me on open questions and obviously is keeping tabs on our comments here. :)

    Android TV will work with “future devices” and:
    HDHR3-CC PRIME (copy freely only)
    HDHR4-2US DUAL
    HDTC 2US PLUS

    They have successfully sideloaded their existing Android app onto Fire TV but it only currently works with the HDTC-2US that transcodes down. Related, sounds like some nice updates coming soon to the Android app with EPG and program imagery.

    Regarding hardware, more Prime stock will be available soon. Not much to share now on new models except the next appears to be a commercial-grade job with 24 tuners, powered by 4 CableCARDs, designed to fit into a rack (1/2 height RU).

    He suggests HLS on Roku may be tricky in regards to real time live TV (heard similar from Sling once upon a time), but they’re investigating and did mention the 3rd party solutions that relay video from PC to Roku.

  18. Anybody else feel like what we really need in a set-top box to make it a true “bridge” to IP TV viewing is OTA/Cable PVR functionality? I keep looking at all these new set top boxes and saying, “yeah, but without PVR capability it’s just a fancier version of my Roku.”

  19. Here’s the crazy thing… a several year old WDTV streamer with a Hauppauge tuner along with USB or network storage provides DVR capabilities. But we need it on a more successful platform like Roku. Actually, the solution is probably Tablo as a headless DVR and Rokus as clients around the house and smartphones when on the go.

  20. I agree with you Dave. Combine a Roku 3 with good DVR with Cablecard support and i’m sold. No one has been able to do it at least on a commercially successful platform.

  21. I have a Fire TV and an HDHomeRun Prime. I’d love to try it out and report back.

    The thing I’m curious about the most is if it can render the 20mbit mpeg2 streams though. Sure its a quad core, but they’re 1.7ghz cores. And I’m sure it doesn’t have mpeg2 hardware decoding, nothing does these days.

  22. I am really excited about where SiliconDust may be going with all this. Windows Media Center is dead. Finally something that comes next, and a wide variety of ways to watch it (apps, DLNA, web browser, even WMC if you want to).

  23. I’m kinda sad that the HDHR3-CC only works for copy-freely. I hope they’re working to add the playing of protected content.

    As far as sideloading the existing HomeRun View app onto the fireTV, you can do it, but you can’t change channels, since it’s a touch interface app. I’ve done it, and tried everything to change channels. Their new Android TV plugin won’t work on a fire TV, since it uses android 4.2 and refuses to install w/ error about SDK version.

  24. @ensaburnur
    I believe Simple.TV powered by SliconDust has managed to do this (https://us.simple.tv/#bigscreen)
    It is similar to Tablo mentioned earlier but unlike Tablo it also has support for ClearQAM.
    (http://www.tablotv.com/faq/#Does_Tablo_Support_QAM)

  25. We’ve reviewed both Simple TV 2 and Tablo. We can’t recommend Simple TV at this time (and the hardware is a rare miss for Silicon Dust).

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