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Google releases Android 12 for TV with refresh rate switching, 4K user interface

02 Dec 2021 | Rasmus Larsen |

Android 12 for TV is now officially available, according to Google, but it will take a while before it reaches your Android TV or Google TV device. Here are the new features.

What's new in Android TV 12?

The most important new feature of Android 12 for TVs is the new framework for refresh rate switching to ensure stutter-free video playback of 24fps, 25fps, 50fps, 60fps etc. Individual streaming apps must also implement match support. - "We have added further customizations in Android 12 to improve the experience and compatibility on TV devices. Some of the highlights coming with Android 12 for TV are media playback improvements, more refined user interface capabilities, and privacy and security enhancements. In addition, we are introducing better standards support and improvements for HDMI and tuners," said Google. Other new features include a 4K user interface (up from 1080p) and interface tweaks like blurring/focus, microphone and camera indicators to let you know if your device is watching/listening, and support for HDMI CEC 2.0 for better device interoperability. Also read: Android 11 for TV has support for third party game controllers

Google TV

Android TV / Google TV user interface will get a 4K upgrade with Android 12

Chromecast, Nvidia Shield, TVs?

There are separate builds of Android 12 for Android TV and Google TV devices, respectively. The new Chromecast seems like an obvious candidate for Android 12 but Google has yet to comment on plans to update Chromecast beyond its current state of Android 10. This is in stark contrast to the Apple TV boxes that get tvOS system updates on day one. We do not expect Nvidia Shield (still running Android 9) or TVs from Sony, Philips, TCL, Xiaomi or other brands to get Android 12 in the near future either. However, new features can still appear on your device without the Android system having to update, i.e. user profiles and watchlists. In addition, Google is bringing 'Play as you download' to games on the Google Play store to let you start new games faster. At this time, Android 12 for TV can be installed only on Google's developer kit (ADT-3).

Android 12 for TVs – new features

In Google's own words: Media At the heart of the TV experience is beautiful and seamless media playback. In the US, users are spending well over 4 hours a day watching media on TV, and are always asking for the highest resolution playback possible. With Android 12, we are releasing three new features to better support ever-improving picture quality. - Refresh Rate Switching Settings: For a smoother viewing experience, Android 12 now supports seamless and non-seamless refresh rate switching. Apps can now integrate these settings for playback of content at optimal frame rates. The Match Content Frame Rate user setting has been added to allow users to control this feature, and apps can call Display.getMode to know if a user’s device supports seamless rate switching. - Better display mode reporting: We are improving how TV devices report display modes and making hotplugging behavior more consistent. App developers no longer need to use workarounds for accurately detecting display modes or for handling HDMI hotplug events. - Tunnel Mode Updates: Updates to Android’s tunnel mode are making it even easier for app developers to support consistent and efficient playback across devices by reducing media processing overhead in the Android Framework. User Interface A beautiful media experience needs an equally stunning user interface to match. Android TV brings two new additions to the UI that help developers provide users with a richer visual experience on high performance devices. - Background blurs: Background blurring using RenderEffect (for in-app blurs) and WindowManager (for cross-window blurs) can now be used to easily enhance the visual separation of different UI layers.

Android 12 TV

Example background blur used to separate UI layers

- 4K UI support: For added visual fidelity, Android TV OS now officially supports UI rendering at 4k resolution on compatible devices. 4K UI resolution can be tested in the upcoming Android 12 emulator for TV to allow app developers to prepare their app for devices with the higher resolution. Privacy and Security With Android 12, we’re continuing to focus on giving users more transparency and control while keeping their devices and data secure. Beta 3 for TV includes many of the new privacy features from the Android framework. - Microphone and camera indicators: Users will now see any time apps are accessing the microphone or camera by showing an indicator on the TV screen. For better visibility of recent app accesses to microphone and camera, users can visit their privacy settings on TV.

Android 12 TV

Microphone and camera indicators showing during a video call. Video credit: Ekaterina Bolovtsova

- Microphone and camera toggles: Two new global privacy settings are now available, allowing the user to easily toggle access to the microphone or camera. When those toggles are disabled, apps will be unable to access microphone audio and camera video.

Android 12 TV

Microphone and camera indicators showing during a video call. Video credit: Ekaterina Bolovtsova

HDMI & Tuner - Support for HDMI CEC 2.0 - Tuner HAL 1.1 with DTMB support and performance improvements - Better protection model with Tuner Service
FlatpanelsHD
- Source: Google



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