Google wants Android TV to be your hub, and your smartphone/tablet to be the controller.
We're no strangers to Second Screen apps here, especially as they apply to video games. The big thing that pushed Second Screen apps forward in the current generation of apps has been the application of a centralized platform, which is something Microsoft capitalized on with their SmartGlass platform for the Xbox. While this setup works well when you are at home by yourself, or in very specific situations with someone willing to act as your wingman, we don't often see Second Screen apps focused toward multiple users in front of a television that they don't necessarily own. Google has chosen the Game Developers Conference to launch several new tools to help developers improve their games, and included in that list is the Nearby Connections API.
Nearby Connections is a new API in Google Play Games that will take your smartphone or tablet and allow you to play games on Android TV with anyone near you. It's an API designed to use your location and a local wireless network to allow for low latency gaming your biggest screen. Through this API, developers will be able to build local multiplayer content into their apps and make it possible for new players to join in on the fly. This opens the doors to everything from quick races to determine who is the best to impromptu tournaments with multiple users cycling in and out.
Google has already started testing this platform with Vector Unit, who will be incorporating this new tech into Beach Buggy Racing this Summer. This is a hugely positive move not only for users, but for Android TV. As a standalone micro console platform, or even as an embedded TV platform, Android TV's functionality will expand dramatically when used as a hub to extend the gameplay we're already used to on our phones.
What Android game would you like to play with friends on the big screen? Sound off in the comments!