Google’s I/O developer conference started today and the company held their big keynote presentation where they ran through all the new updates coming to their various products. Much like last year and the year before that, Google spent less than 30 seconds this year talking about Android TV. Even though there was much more said about TV in general this year, it was focused entirely on how Google’s voice assistant interacts with Chromecast and YouTube. What was said about Android TV is that the platform would be gaining support for Google’s voice assistant and getting a new home screen launcher later this year when Android O, the upcoming version of Android, is released. Read more ›
Those of you hoping for a new Nexus Player, or even just acknowledgement that Android TV exists, out of Google’s big hardware focused event today are out of luck. Like has been mostly the case for the last two years, Google has once again ignored Android TV as a thing that they make. The only mention of Android TV during the entire presentation was when discussing Google Home’s ability to “Voice Cast” and control playback on Chromecast and “any Google Cast enabled TVs, like Android TVs.” Even then, the context involved Android TV as the operating system for televisions, and not independent set top devices. It seems more evident than ever that the future of Android TV for Google is for it to become just a free OS for televisions manufacturers to use, that helps Google slowly creep into everyone’s living room.
Much like last year, Google spent just a few seconds talking about Android TV during their opening keynote presentation today at their anual Google I/O conference. The only thing they mentioned regarding Android TV was that they will be adding a picture-in-picture feature with the upcoming Android N software update. While watching a video, Android TV users will be able to enable picture-in-picture mode to shrink the playing video into a small window in the upper right corner of the screen. From there, it appears you’ll be able to navigate the Android TV interface and possibly even launch apps while the video plays in the corner. The demo shown during the presentation depicted a user watching a news video, entering picture-in-picture through an on-screen menu, searching for a game, and installing the game, all while the video continued to play.
When Amazon created Fire OS 5 for the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, they integrated some of Android TV’s backend code into the release for developers to take advantage of. Perhaps we’ll see a similar picture-in-picture feature make its way to Fire TV devices when Fire OS gets updated to use Android N as its base operating system.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s Senior Vice President of Products, took to the stage this morning to kick off Google I/O, the company’s largest annual event. The opening keynote presentation is where Google talks about and reveals information regarding their most important products, and is where Google announced Android TV a year ago. As Pichai, one-by-one, talked about each of Google’s top services, he eventually came to Android TV where he spent just 30 seconds on the subject. He mentioned the operating system would be released on Sony and Sharp TVs in the US and on Philips TVs in Europe. Pichai then covered Android TVs “streaming console” offerings by mentioning the Nvidia Shield and that “Razor has one.” He finished by saying that Android TV has doubled its user base in the last 3 months. Two hours later, the keynote ended without ever mentioning Android TV again.
Sundar Pichai ended today’s big keynote by saying “This is why [Google] I/O is so exciting for us. We get to share what we’ve been up to in the last year.” The fact that Android TV was virtually omitted from the presentation this year, when it was such a large part of last years keynote, doesn’t bode well for Google’s commitment to the platform. It’s not an indication of Google abandoning Android TV as a failure by any means, but I expected more than just a brief acknowledgement of its existence. The more competition the Fire TV has, the more likely Amazon will continue to push the platform forward with new features. I just hope the new Apple TV, rumored to be released next month, gives the Fire TV some competition.