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Finally, a Google Android TV dongle that doesn’t need a smartphone to work

I’ve always loved Android TV. Whether it’s built into the TV or a separate set-top box like the Mi Box, it’s one of the best ways for me to catch up on some Netflix or YouTube without having to worry about DRM issues or anything of the sort. Up till now, Google’s TV device has been the Google Chromecast, which is basically a streaming dongle that you plug into your TV, and operate from your smartphone.

But devs over at XDA Developers have just pulled purported renders of Google’s upcoming Android TV dongle from pre-release firmware, and it looks like the company’s latest streaming stick will be markedly different from its predecessors. That’s because the stick will have an accompanying remote, which means that the dongle—codenamed Sabrina—will offer an experience that’s closer to streaming devices from Roku and Xiaomi.

However, it’s worth noting that the images displayed in this article were pulled from a marketing video that was supposedly created in October 2019, so aspects of the design, name, and other details might be very different upon official release.

Sabrina and the Teenage Remote

Please forgive my choice of heading above, but I couldn’t resist. The new streaming device is code-named “Sabrina”, and much like the Chromecast dongles of old, it features a minimalist design with a simple embossed “G” on the front. There are three colours: Black, White, and Pink, along with what looks like a matte-like finish.

Moving on to the remote, you can see that there’s a dedicated Google Assistant button, along with other navigation keys to control the device. While the bottom half of the remote is hidden in the image, another possibility is that there will be dedicated on-demand buttons such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, although this is speculation at this point.

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Other images show off a user interface (UI) that is fairly familiar to those of you who have used the Android TV OS in the past. There’s Netflix, and of course Google Assistant, along with integration of YouTube TV within the “Live” tab of Google’s UI. Since Google has been rebranding some of its new Smart Home products as “Nest” devices, it’s also a possibility that the Sabrina TV dongle will be sold under the Nest banner upon release.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any confirmed details on branding, price, or even when the device will be released. We could see it launch in the coming months, according to XDA, but the current COVID-19 situation could mean that any potential launch is delayed. Still, I’m really excited. Excited for a Android TV device from Google that can work on its own—that is, without the help of an accompanying smartphone.

In fact, I’d argue that an external Android TV device is one of the most convenient ways to use “Smart” functions on a TV. Unplug the dongle, bring it anywhere you go, and you have access to Android TV OS on any TV that has a HDMI port. In fact, the upcoming Sabrina dongle could have a lot in common with the Mi Stick, which also runs on Android TV OS.

So, what do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

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