Android TV is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the smart TV landscape. At its annual Google I/O conference, the company revealed that Android TV is now being used by more than 140 pay-TV operators worldwide, and six out of the top 10 smart TV manufacturers are working with Google on Android TV devices, according to Variety. While no major updates for Android TV were announced, Google has said it’s going to make it a lot easier for people to add new streaming video apps to their Android TV devices, whether it’s a set-top box or a smart TV.
At the moment, if you want to add a video streaming service to Android TV, the process is somewhat cumbersome: You search for the app on the Play Store, download it, install it, open it, sign up for the service if you haven’t already done so, and/or enter your account details. In the future, it could be drastically simplified, as Google is going to let app publishers combine the sign-up, install, and log-in, into a single step.
It’s an approach that will bring the Android TV experience closer to the “channel” model favored by Amazon, Roku, and soon, Apple, in which new video services can be added through your existing credentials with these companies. As Variety points out, with Google’s interpretation of the channel model, publishers are still using their own apps and aren’t being forced to provide their streaming content within a third-party experience that they can’t control. Given that Android TV now has content from more than 1,000 streaming content providers, this change could significantly reduce the friction involved in the relationship between video providers and their subscribers.
The Android TV Play Store is also getting a facelift of sorts, as Google works on improving people’s ability to discover these streaming apps, plus the thousands of other apps available on the platform. A new version of the store will launch later this year, which will offer a much more appealing visual layout that uses the whole screen for app categories, instead of the current horizontally-scrolling app ribbons.
As to whether or not Android TV will be staying in lock-step with the rest of the Android ecosystem, it appears that the TV team is charting its own course. When asked whether Google would upgrade Android TV to Android Q, Android TV head Shalini Govil-Pai said, “We don’t necessarily need to be on the same timeline.”
There was no discussion about Google’s recent experiments with adding advertising to the Android TV home screen, something that viewers haven’t been thrilled about.