If you needed any more evidence that Google has turned its sights on Amazon.com, take a look at the streaming TV device that Google unveiled on Wednesday.
Called the Nexus Player, it looks a lot like the streaming Fire TV device that Amazon began selling in April.
Google even cribbed the Fire TV’s signature feature — a microphone button on the remote control that you press to use voice commands to search for videos and other content.
Maybe it’s payback for the way Amazon.com took Google’s Android operating system, stripped out the Google features and used it to build its Fire phones, tablets and TV device. You could also say Amazon is chasing Google, which has tried for years to get its services into the living room through TV gadgets.
Google calls the Nexus Player a “console” because it plays Android games, just as the Fire TV does. But both devices will be mostly used to stream online video onto big-screen TVs that don’t otherwise have Internet connections.
There are other similarities. Google’s Nexus TV box is round instead of square like the Fire, but they’re both about the size of a box of European cigarettes. Google also matched the Fire TV’s $99 price and, like Amazon, is offering an Xbox-style game controller accessory for $40.
The broadside on Amazon’s living room device comes just a few days after Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, said at an event in Germany that Amazon.com is now its biggest search competitor.
Still, that rivalry was overshadowed by other gadgets that Google unveiled on Wednesday. In addition to the TV streamer, it announced new Nexus tablets and phones, jumping ahead of an Apple press event on Thursday at which it’s expected to announce new versions of the iPad.
Google’s Nexus 9 tablet has an 8.9-inch-diagonal display and a keyboard accessory that attaches magnetically and doubles as a cover. The tablet is made by HTC, starts at $399 for a 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi model and will be available next month.
Also announced is the Nexus 6, a Motorola-made jumbo smartphone with a 6-inch diagonal display, a 13-megapixel camera and a “turbo charger” that takes 15 minutes to give the battery six hours worth of juice. It starts at $649 and will be available for pre-order Oct. 29. It will work with all major carriers.
All the devices run the latest version of Android, version 5.0, dubbed “Lollipop.”
The Nexus 6: