An industry peer passed along a fascinating invite soliciting existing DirecTV Now customers to test a new AT&T Android streaming set-top first uncovered by Variety. As to why this box needs to exist, I can’t quite say… given the great options AT&T and DirecTV already leverage, like the similarly Android-powered Amazon Fire TV. But AT&T/DirecTV suggest it’s possibly designed to improve performance (and they did cut off first gen Fire TVs for whatever reason):
We built a streaming device to give you an even better experience. And we’d like you to be a beta tester so you can help us make sure we do just that.
Another thought I had is that this box might target cord cutters with AT&T Internet that might receive some preferential network treatment from the mothership, but I haven’t yet confirmed my pal’s provider. Will update when I do. In any event, as a new AT&T wireless customer I can say I’ve been enjoying my (free) slim Watch TV. bundle… that is missing a Roku app. Perhaps this new streamer will also provide access to that service.
On the hardware front, this is our first closeup of the remote. And I wonder if the button centered below the navigational pad suggests Google Assistant voice control. The number keys are also curious – does that indicate some sort of AirTV-esque over-the-air channel integration or a DirecTV Now guide revamp?
Given what’s described as a 6-month beta test, it may be awhile before we learn more.