Google has released the next major version of Android - 7.0 Nougat - that introduces new TV features such as picture-in-picture, app recording, multiple accounts, multitasking, system-level HDR, and bug fixes. Nougat is now available for Nexus Player but TVs will have to wait.
What's new in Android TV 7.0
Android 7.0 has been released across phones, tablets, and TVs. Google says that it packs over 250 new features and while most of these are reserved for the phone, there are also new features for the TV screen.
The update will first and foremost add the option to use multiple Google accounts on the same TV. This will allow family members to access a personal profile in apps as well as personal playlists or subscribed channels in for example YouTube. The first – and only – app that we have spotted with support for multiple accounts is YouTube. More are likely to follow.
Another new feature is picture-in-picture that lets you minimize the video to a window and move it to one of the four corners. You can then now continue to browse or use another app. By holding down the home button you gain access to setting options, says Google. It looks like app developers will have to add support for PiP manually as we have yet to find any apps with PiP enabled.
Google is adding a new multitasking menu on Android TV. By double-clicking the home button on the remote control you can quickly switch between active apps. The multitasking interface is pictured below.
Android Nougat is also adding new recording features. If an app developer allows, you will be able to record livestreams onto a hard drive. TVs running Android can of course already record TV channels but with the new feature it will be possible to record video from within apps.
Support for HDR (high dynamic range) is added as a system level process starting with Nougat.
Lastly, Google has added system level support for Vulkan, a 3D game engine. Vulkan will enable better 3D graphics on Android TV devices.
Of course, Android 7.0 also includes lots of bug fixes. Hopefully this will improve the Android TV user experience, and make devices more stable after a shaky start to Google’s TV ambitions.
Now on Nexus Player - TVs later
The only TV device that has received Android Nougat today is the Nexus Player, which is the media player that Google launched in a partnership with Asus to mark the beginning of Android TV. The box has since been discontinued.
The update was automatically pushed to our Nexus Player some hours ago.
If you own a Sony or Philips TV, or the Nvidia Shield box, you will have to wait. Nvidia Shield was recently updated to the previous version of Android TV – 6.0 Marshmallow – but TVs from Sony and Philips have yet to receive 6.0 that was released in late 2015.
Nvidia has promised to update Shield to 7.0 later.
The first TV to feature Android 6.0 will be the Sony ZD9 and the company has promised to update the 2015 and 2016 models later. Philips has also promised to push out 6.0 to all of its TVs. However, it is not clear when - or if - 7.0 will make it to existing TVs as none of the TV manufacturers have commented on the matter. If history is any indication, you should probably arm yourself with patience.
New manufacturers, including Bang & Olufsen and Grundig, will start selling Android TV this autumn. Some of these will be equipped with Android 5.1 whereas other will come with 6.0 from the start. None of these manufacturers have commented on 7.0.