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IT & Systems Management

Android TV will add new apps and devices as it heads toward Android N

Poor performance helped kill Google TV, but so did a lack of support from the major networks and other video providers. Google appears determined not to repeat that mistake with its successor, Android TV. 

Google said that “many” new apps will be arriving on Android TV at some point in the future: CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, MTV, Freeform, Nickelodeon, Spotify, Starz, Watch ABC, Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney Junior and “many more.” Today, Google counts 63 apps for Android TV within the Google Play Store.

PhilipsSony, and Sharp have all signed on to use Android TV, and Google said Wednesday that RCA will also join the party. In addition to that, Sharp and Xiaomi are building set-top boxes: Sharp's will be called the Net Player, and Xiaomi's is called the Mi Box. We know the most about the Mi Box: It will include a quad-core 2GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 8GB of onboard storage. It will be capable of decoding 4K VP9 streams at up to 60 fps, with support for HDR10. Audio support will include DTS 2.0+ and Dolby Digital Plus, with up to 7.1-channel audio pass-through. Xiaomi did not announce a price or ship date.

In Europe, Android TV devices from Beko, Grundig, and Vestel will be available starting in June, Google said.

Eventually, Android TVs will be able to take advantage of Android N, which will arrive sometime in the future. Android N has tons of new features, but only a certain few really affect Android TVs: picture-in-picture, new recording APIs that will turn Android TVs into DVRs, and HDR support. (Don’t think of picture-in-picture in the same way as in the early days of cable, when more than one channel could be watched at once. At Google I/O, Google showed off a video window while the remainder of the screen was used for search. 

Google also reiterated that Google Cast, the technology that “throws” video content from phones and tablets to devices like the Chromecast, would be supported on TVs, displays, speakers, Chromecast, and Chromecast Audio devices.

Why this matters: Google TV was a crushing disappointment to a platform that promised blend TV and the Internet. Roku and other manufacturers quickly stepped into the void with products that, while less ambitious, were superior with the core function of streaming video (primarily Netflix, in the beginning) over the Internet. Google, meanwhile, has attacked both on price (with the Chromecast) and additional capabilities (Android TV). 

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