Google updates Android TV for developers

Mike Wheatley

Google has announced new updates for developers interesting in building apps for its Android TV platform, which is the version of its Android operating system that’s customised to run on televisions.


Google also shared some statistics that highlight Android TV’s growing presence in the smart TV market, saying that it now works with seven of the top ten smart TV OEMs and more than 160 TV operators. In addition, it said there are now 7,000 apps available on Google Play for Android TV, while the number of monthly active Android TV devices has increased 80% in the last year.

The latest developer preview of Android TV was released in June, but Google declined to elaborate on the specific new features it contained at that time. Now, it has revealed more details, saying most of them are focused on boosting user engagement and making it easier for developers to acquire and monetise users.

On the engagement side, Google is making it easier for users to type with a new layout and more functionality for Gboard TV, which is the keyboard used on Android TV. For example Gboard now has speech-to-text capabilities and predictive typing, similar to how Gmail auto-completes sentences when you compose an email.

Google has also introduced a new auto low latency mode for games players. The feature lets developers disable post-processing on Android TV and minimise latency when a game application is played in full-screen mode.

Meanwhile Google has improved the leanback library to make it easier to navigate through apps, and it’s introducing Google Play Instant, which is a feature that allows users to test an app through an emulator without actually installing it on their TV first. Google is also making it possible for users to purchase content using a PIN code, instead of entering their password to verify payments.

Finally, Google said the Android TV emulator now supports Google Play, enabling developers to test their subscriptions there, instead of using a real device.

Google launched its Android TV platform back in 2014, and in the six years its been available it has grown to become one of the most popular smart TV platforms, installed on TVs sold by companies such as Sony and TCL, as well as streaming devices from Nvidia, Xiaomi and others.

Android TV still has some catching up to do though, as Roku remains the most popular Smart TV platform of all, accounting for 30% of all connected TV device sales, with Amazon Fire TV and Samsung’s Tizen OS coming second and third, respectively, according to 2019 data from