Android TV and the app development possibilities for it

Published on Jul 07, 2014 in Android Developers Resources
Android TV and the app development possibilities for it

Android TV: Google brings simplicity to your living room

TV history has always been the same: year after year, people say TV is dead, especially since internet appeared. It’s a fact that customer habits have switched, and nowadays people spend most of their time on internet. Not so long ago, in their PC’s; today, in their smartphones and tablets: playing games, surfing and chatting. At the moment, television seems to be just an ambience sound while users focus in the palm of their hand. But the truth is probably TV will never die: still, from time to time, users need to be passive and lazy. Some people just want to get home, turn their TV on and watch/listen to something, whatever it is. Smart TV’s are a reality since some years ago, but one of the problems is those “smart” TV’s still require a big effort from users, and having to choose what you want to watch all the time can be annoying.

That’s what Android TV (expected to be available at the beginning of 2015) is supposed to fix: it will be fun, very fluid and fast. After the unsuccessful Google TV, Google’s new interface promises to be a real interactive platform. With Android TV, Google will basically focus on a simple TV interface: a true “smart” one, which really seems to “think” by itself. Android TV will be a totally intuitive system, which knows your preferences and suggests content on the homescreen itself.

Chromecast was the first step towards an authentic smart TV, but the HDMI stick functions are very limited. Android TV will include Chromecast, so you can send content (like music and movies) from your smartphone or tablet to the TV with just a click, and you can control Android TV from your smartphone, tablet or smartwatch with an app. You will also be able to see live content or play movies and series from Play Movies and similar apps.

Android TV and the app development possibilities for it

Competitors: Android TV vs. other smart TV’s

The main difference between Android TV and the rest of smart TV’s lies on simplicity; Google doesn’t want to turn your TV into a bigger smartphone. Take two of the most known smart TV’s, like Samsung or LG: they offer a big collection of social and lifestyle apps, such as Facebook, Accuweather, Skype, Twitter, news, sports, etc., being more just like a “grand scale smartphone”.

Google creators want to avoid that, and define Android TV as “an entertainment interface, not a computing platform". Their aim is to proactively recommend things to the users as soon as they turn their TV on. Of course, Google toolbar will be there and search will still be one of Android TV’s tools, but their goal is that it should never take more than three clicks to go from the homescreen to enjoying a new piece of content, specially selected for you. Search and browsing will be secondary, giving more importance to intuitively understanding what the user wants and delivering it as soon as possible. Android TV’s main aim is to provide you comfort and simplicity, so you can lie on the sofa and use a really intuitive and simple system that knows your tastes and preferences, forgetting anything else.

With its personalized recommendations on the homescreen, you won’t have to search on the TV guide or in any apps. Google proposes a very fast search, including voice search to quickly find content and answer queries: this way, all you will need to say is “Johnny Depp movies” and Android TV will offer you all its recommendations.

You will be able to navigate the interface using a remote control, a game controller or the Android TV mobile app, but nothing about gesture control like Samsung TV, for the moment.

Android TV and the app development possibilities for it

Developing apps for Android TV

For now, the apps that Google wants for Android TV are basically extremely simple TV apps and games. Android TV will propose a wide range of games and content, including movies, series, videos from Google Play and Youtube. The TV interface will be divided into three sections, set as scrolling cards: recommendations (based on viewing habits), media apps and games.

But for the moment, Google focuses on simplicity and rejects any unneeded features such as telephony, cameras or touchscreen support. They want developers to build interfaces to plug in shows, games, photos, music and films. Google is currently searching for app developers who don’t have to create apps for TV, but special webpages for TV that can receive commands from a phone. Besides Google’s own apps (Play Movies, YouTube and Hangouts) the new smart TV will also offer third party apps like Vevo, Netflix, Hulu or Pandora, and it will also support voice input and notifications.

The content of all your Android devices will synchronize, so you can start watching a movie on your tablet and continue watching it in your Android TV at night. You will be able to personalize everything with the rest of your Android devices.

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