Google begins global rollout of new Android TV interface

Mike Wheatley

Google is reportedly rolling out the new Android TV interface that appeared in the U.S. earlier this year to users worldwide.


The new interface looks a lot like Google TV. It was first launched in North America in February on select Sony, Philips and TCL Android TVs, and now FlatPanelsHD reports it is popping up in far-flung places such as Europe, India and Brazil.

Alas, the new experience also brings new complaints, with users reportedly moaning about more intrusive, autoplaying ads and recommendations showing up.

FlatPanelsHD says the new Android TV is being rolled out for TVs made from 2017 to 2021 made by the above brands, as well as OnePlus, Sharp, Realme. The update is also being introduced on Nvidia Shield, Nexus Player, Motorola, Nokia and Xiaomi streaming boxes that run Android.

While Google hasn’t made any official announcement it seems that it intends to bring the update to pretty much every device that is compatible. The new experience is delivered via an update to the launcher app, so no system update is necessary.

The actual interface isn’t so bad. It looks a lot like the Google TV ‘skin’ that is present on the latest Chromecast and some Sony and TCL TVs that launched this year, bringing better content recommendations to the fore. The idea is to put content to the front and center of the interface, so as to reduce the amount of time users spend searching inside individual apps for content to watch. However, the new Android reportedly lacks some functionality that Google TV offers and has fewer tabs.

Of course, cynics will – probably correctly – point out that Google wants people to spend less time inside third-party apps so it has the opportunity to deliver more targeted ads. And that appears to be what is happening, with users complaining on Reddit about an increased number of auotplaying ads and recommendations.

That’s in line with Google’s stated plan in 2019 to expand its advertising efforts in Android TV.

The good news is that it’s still possible to disable autoplaying ads – just head to Preferences in the main menu, then select Home Screen > Disable video/audio previews.

It’s likely that Google will ultimately phase out Android TV altogether. While existing Android TVs and streaming boxes will continue to receive updates for the time being, it’s expected that most new TVs and boxes will come preloaded with Google TV instead.

However, buyers should perhaps proceed with caution if they're considering purchasing a new Google TV - last week it was revealed that Best Buy pulled TCL's new 5-Series and 6-Series Google TVs from its store in response to numerous complaints about bugs in the new interface.