At I/O 2016, Google welcomed Xiaomi, Grundig, Vestel, Beko, and RCA to the Android TV family. It also announced that more Google Cast TVs are coming. The next version of Android TV will support HDR and picture-in-picture. Spotify is one of the new apps.
New Android TV partners
Companies like Bang & Olufsen and TCL have already joined the Android TV movement but we will have to wait a few more months to hear about the products, it seems.
Instead, Google welcomed other members to the family. Next month, you can expect the first RCA-branded Android TV in the US as well as Android TVs from Grundig, Vestel and Beko in Europe. Xiaomi will launch its first Android TV box with 4K and HDR. Sharp will also launch the Net Player box running Android TV but only in Japan.
Sony and Philips will continue to support Android TV.
After a slow start it seems that Android TV finally has some momentum.
More Google Cast TVs
Vizio recently launched the first TV built entirely on Google Cast. It has no tuner or user interface. You use a tablet to control everything and push content to the TV via the cast button.
Expect to see more TVs like that, says Google. In the US, Philips, Toshiba, Polaroid, Magnavox, Westinghouse and others will launch Google Cast TVs in the near future.
An overlooked detail in this context is that the Google Cast platform was updated to support 4K and HDR when Vizio announced its TV. We guess the next version of Chromecast could be a 4K/HDR dongle.
With both Android TV and Google Cast very much alive, Google will continue to promote two TV platforms.
What’s coming in Android TV
The next major version of Android TV - called Android N for now - will hit the first TV devices in late summer if we are lucky. Google has made it a priority to fix bugs and performance issues but the company will also include a few new major features. The three most important features are:
Picture-in-Picture: Minimize the video to one of the four corners to use the screen for other tasks.
Recording APIs: Some TVs with Android TV already offer live TV channel recording but with the new APIs you will be able to record content from within apps, if the developer allows it.
High Dynamic Range: Netflix already offers HDR on certain Android TVs but starting with Android TV Google will integrate HDR on a system level.
If you own a Nexus Player and want to try Android TV in beta go here. All it takes is one push of a button – our Nexus Player is downloading as we speak.
New apps for Android TV
Android TV offers a decent selection of apps, including most of the major TV streaming services in the US. The regional categories are not as strong. One major player that Android TV is missing is Amazon who appears to have upset both Apple and Google in some way.
Music lovers will be happy to learn that Spotify and Deezer are rolling out to Android TV.
In the US, new apps include CNN, Comedy Central, MTV, Freeform, Nickelodeon, Starz, WatchESPN, Watch ABC, Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney Junior and ESPN.