Android O will introduce a revamped user interface on Android TV where Netflix will get its own content row. There are now over 3000 apps on Android TV. Google Assistant will be added this summer.
Over 3000 apps & 100 partners
Google dedicated only a very short segment at today’s I/O conference to talk about Android TV. However, we still learned some news and got some hard numbers to navigate by.
There are now over 3000 apps available on Android TV. This compares to over 8000 apps on Apple tvOS, over 7000 apps on Amazon Fire TV, and over 5000 apps on Roku.
Google also said that it now has over 100 partners worldwide. Manufacturers such as Sony, Philips, Sharp, Nvidia, TCL, Bang & Olufsen, and RCA are selling Android TV. The operating system is also powering set-top boxes. Over 1 million new Android TVs get activated every two months.
Those were the numbers, let’s move on.
A revamped user interface
Since Google announced Android TV in June 2014 the user interface has been based on the concept of content rows. Manufacturers have not been allowed to modify the user interface except to pre-load apps. That is why all Android TVs look alike.
With Android O (version 8.0) the user interface gets a refresh. Manufacturers are still not allowed to change the look and the content rows are still here. Nevertheless, it appears that using an Android TV will be a quite different experience in the future.
Apps such as Netflix will get their own separate content rows in the new user interface, and to the left you get small icons to help you navigate. A new content row dubbed ‘Watch Next’ lets you save movies and TV series for later and lets you resume watching TV series that you are currently watching.
As you navigate the new interface a small description will appear below the show or movie you have highlighted.
Sony, Philips, Sharp, Bang & Olufsen, RCA, TCL, and other are using Android in TVs. Nvidia, Razer, Xiaomi, and others are using the operating system in streaming boxes. It is not clear which devices will be updated to Android O. However, you can be sure about one thing. It will probably take some time as most current Android TVs are running Android M (6.0), which is two generations old.
Google Assistant on TV
At CES 2017, Google announced that its ‘Assistant’ is coming to Android TV. It will replace the current voice command system. At I/O Google added that the update will be available this summer on all Android TV running 6.0 Marshmallow or later.
Google Assistant lets you do a range of things but is, on the TV, optimized for searching for content. You can ask it to search for new movies or TV shows, or ask it to search find a specific video on YouTube. It will also give you information about the weather.
The company will furthermore build out Google Home integration with TVs. HBO Now will soon be supported and it Home will also work with Chromecast, serving up a small menu on the TV screen.