As noted here on several occasions, Google is way behind Apple (and even Microsoft) when it comes to integrating apps and services with the next hot screen: the television. Apple has AirPlay for sending music and video to televisions. Google has nothing of the sort, but at least now it has a small $300 sphere called Nexus Q.
When Google announced this Android-powered orb, which sits in your home entertainment system and lets you play music and video on your nice big television and (hopefully) your nice speakers, we thought of 8 thing it will do for music fans right off the bat.
However, it’s more notable what Nexus Q can’t do, according to Steve Kovach of Silicon Alley Insider, who just put the thing through its paces in a rigorous review. He has some nice things to say — it’s pretty, the music visualizations are neat, and… it’s pretty.
Unfortunately, Google appears to have hobbled the Nexus Q so that it only works if all of your music and videos are either stored on Google (as in music you’ve uploaded to Google Play) or delivered by Google (as in streamed from YouTube). In other words, it cannot run third-party apps.
“Unless all your digital content comes from Google Play, the Nexus Q is next to useless,” writes Kovach. He concludes, “I can’t think of one good reason to buy the Nexus Q.”
Ouch. Even worse, every other hardware reviewer out there seems to be saying the same thing, more or less. Nexus Q doesn’t even have an on-screen interface; instead, you have to use the much smaller screen on your Android smartphone or tablet.
For now, Google’s quest for the living room continues (Google TV hasn’t exactly won people over). The answer could be an open-source equivalent of Apple AirPlay, which would let people zap stuff from any Android app (or maybe even an iPhone, because Android can do AirPlay) to home electronics like stereos, televisions, and, why not, the Nexus Q.