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Google I/O: An update on Android TV & a Nexus Player successor

09 May 2018 | Rasmus Larsen |

At the Google I/O 2018 conference, the company gave us a status on Android TV, saying that the next version will feature a streamlined set-up process and performance improvements. Google also announced a successor to the Nexus Player – but only for developers.

Android P on your TV

Android TV did not get stage time at the keynote but Google did have some announcements to make. The next major update will come with Android P later this year but we should note that very few Android TV devices are running the previous Android O (or Oreo) at this time. It introduced a major user interface refresh so manufactures are a little hesitant to update.

Android P on TVs will include a faster and streamlined set-up process that will automatically identify nearby smartphones via bluetooth and let users set up their TV via the app or browsers.

Also see: Video: First impressions of new user interface in Android TV

A new app discovery feature will give users the option to install apps on the TV that are currently used on the smartphone as well as transferring login credentials. The last bit will most likely require consent from Netflix and others, and these have not exactly been eager to play ball on other platforms but perhaps Google can convince them. If you already have an Android TV linked to your account the new device will also automatically download previously installed apps.

Android TV new user interface

Android P will include performance improvements especially on devices with slow hardware, the company said. Lastly, Google will push suggested settings to the top of the settings screen to help you set up new features.

Google will also bring the Android TV to new form factors such as the JBL soundbar that was announced ahead of I/O as well as TV broadcasters’ set-top boxes. Android TV adoption is lagging behind Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku but Google is still seeing growth. It now has 100 partners across TVs, set-top boxes and other devices.

- “We are doubling our active user base every year,” Sascha Prueter, Android TV Lead, told Variety.

Google says that there are now over 3600 apps and games available for Android TV. While quality cannot be measured in quantity, this is significantly fewer than on Amazon FireTV, Apple TV, and Roku. The last update that we recall pegged them at around 7000, 8000, and 5000, respectively, but that was last year.

Google Android TV dongle

An Android TV dongle

At I/O 2018, Google announced a small dongle that runs the full Android TV operating system. It is the successor to the now defunct Nexus Player but it will only be available to developers under the name ADT-2.

The dongle leaked in April in a FCC filling and it is the second time, as far as we are aware, that the Android TV operating system has been installed on a small dongle or stick.

The Google ADT-2 will come pre-installed with Android P and will be updated to later versions. It supports 4K video as well as HDR. Google’s Chromecast Ultra already had support for the new video technologies but it is a simple cast receiver whereas ADT-2 runs a full TV operating system. Perhaps this is the first step in bringing something similar to the consumer market, perhaps not, but Google is signaling that it is still very much committed to the Android TV project.

- Source: Google, Variety, Android Central

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