Android TV Overview Updated June 16, 2021

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707 'Android TV' stories

May 2011 - October 2021

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The living room has always been a goal for Google and, following the success of its ultra-cheap Chromecast streaming dongle, the company launched a special version of Android designed for the TV which is still in use today.

What is Android TV?

Android TV is the core platform for Google’s efforts on the big screen. Based on Android, the optimized interface was first released at Google I/O 2014 for devices such as the Nexus Player. As the platform grew and more apps arrived, it was adopted by some TV manufacturers, most notably including Sony which adopted the platform on its Bravia TVs in 2015 and has used it ever since.

In 2017, Google issued a complete redesign to the platform that made it easier to access apps, added a useful “Play Next” row for quickly jumping into content, and customizable rows powered by apps on the device. Google stuck with that design, pictured below, until 2021 when a tweaked homescreen experience was rolled out to implement a few features from the Google TV experience. It was the year prior, in 2020, that Google sparked some controversy by adding “Cinematic Highlights” to the top of the Android TV homescreen with “Staff Picks” and also sponsored content advertisements that couldn’t be disabled. That update was rolled out to nearly every device using the consumer version of the platform.

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Android TV also allows for Pay TV operators to customize the interface to fit their needs using the “Operator Tier.” This special offering gives cable companies and others the ability to craft their own homescreen experience while integrating features such as Google Assistant and the Play Store. Pay TV operators such as TiVo, AT&T, and others have used this option to create customized experiences for their customers, further extending the reach of the platform.

At Google I/O 2021, the company announced that Android TV OS has over 80 million active devices in use today with exceptional growth in the United States especially. Further announcements at the event included an Android 12 Beta, a long-overdue replacement to the phone-based remote, and support for “Stream Transfer” and “Stream Expansion” too.

What apps are available on Android TV?

Apps on Android TV are available through the Google Play Store, and as of 2021, most major services offer an experience on the platform. Notable names include; Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Spotify, Paramount+, and many others.

As of 2019, Google said that there were over 5,000 apps on the Play Store designed for Android TV, a number that has only grown in the two years since. The boom of streaming services also saw Google’s platform as a destination of choice. When HBO Max and Peacock struggled to launch on Roku and Fire TV, they were available on day one on the Play Store. In May 2021, Apple TV expanded availability to all Android TV devices and, in late June, Google’s own Stadia game streaming service is set to be released on the platform.

Helping to plug the gap, too, is support for Google Chromecast integration. Every device running Google’s platform effectively has a Chromecast built-in, allowing users to cast content from their phones on supported apps, or even mirror their screens entirely. Google Assistant is also integrated into Android TV with visual responses, tie-ins with certain apps, and control over playback. Some devices such as the JBL Link Bar even support Assistant as a traditional speaker or with always listening options on devices such as the Nvidia Shield TV.

What devices use Android TV?

On the consumer level, this platform can often be found in set-top boxes and built into full-size TVs. Some of names that use Android TV natively in their panels include:

  • TCL
  • Sony
  • Hisense
  • Xiaomi
  • OnePlus
  • Skyworth
  • Philips

Beyond full-size TVs, though, there are plenty of set-top boxes and dongles that also use the platform. Google, for instance, sells the Chromecast with Google TV for $50. There’s also the flagship Nvidia Shield TV that features 4K AI upscaling and powerful specs starting at $149. The Xiaomi Mi Box S, Mi TV Stick, and many others also use the platform. The most affordable Android TV device to date comes from Walmart, with the retailer now selling a $25 streaming stick and a $30 streaming box.

You can learn about the latest from Google’s platform in our continued coverage below.

Android TV Stories October 18

Google’s updated Nest Cam products come with several advantages such as offline storage, battery power, and lower prices. However, they also come with some frustrating problems including the current lack of support for streaming Nest Cam video to Chromecast or Android TV.

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Android TV Stories October 11

Google Home app will get an Android TV remote on both Android and iOS ‘soon’

A few months after its reveal at Google I/O 2021, Google started rolling out its new Android TV remote in the Google TV app last month. Now, the company is confirming plans to bring the same functionality to the Google Home app on Android and iOS devices.

Android TV Stories October 9

Walmart has dropped the price of its Android TV streamers by $10, now starting at just $15

Google’s Android TV platform got a notable boost earlier this year when Walmart announced two Onn-branded Android TV devices that had the lowest price we’ve ever seen in that ecosystem. Now, Walmart is further slashing prices, now starting these devices at just $15.

Android TV Stories October 7

Verizon appears to be working on the first Android TV soundbar since the flopped JBL Link Bar

As Android TV continues to expand, Verizon is stepping up to make another new Android TV device, but this time it looks to be a soundbar…

Android TV Stories October 5

Shield TV seems to be preparing Android TV 11 update in a closed beta program

Google’s Android TV platform doesn’t rely on major system updates for its biggest new features, but often those updates can breathe some life into aging hardware. Nvidia’s Shield TV lineup has been sitting on top of Android 9.0 for years now, but it seems that Android 11 is in the works.

Android TV Stories September 30

Epson’s affordable new 1080p projector has Android TV w/ Netflix & Prime Video support

Android TV ships as the operating system for quite a few projectors, but all too often these products end up shipping without support for popular services such as Netflix. That’s a problem Epson addresses with its new, pretty-affordable Android TV projector.

Android TV Stories September 28

Xiaomi Mi TV Stick seems to be getting a refresh w/ a bit more Android TV horsepower

Android TV lagged behind when it came to streaming sticks for years, but 2020 finally saw the first options debut. The most notable early adopter was the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick, and now the product seems to be getting a 2021 refresh.

Android TV Stories September 24

Google TV’s in-app remote that arrived earlier this week begins working after an update on Android TV devices.

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Android TV Stories September 23

After leaving its original Android TV remote app to waste for years, Google is finally remedying the situation. Following a false start yesterday, the Google TV app remote is now available, and the app is coming to more countries too.

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Android TV Stories September 22

The Google TV app on Android has gained an in-app remote for some, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work just yet.

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Android TV Stories September 21

Skyworth brings new OLED Android TVs to the United States from $1,200

As the platform continues to grow, Android TV is on some big names in the TV business. Skyworth has been a long-time partner of Google internationally, and now the company is bringing new OLED TVs with Android TV to the US starting at a pretty reasonable price point.

Android TV Stories September 20

Hisense will let you try an Android TV in your home for 100 days

The latest deal from Hisense gives you 100 days to try one of their latest Android TVs in your own home or return it for a full refund.

Android TV Stories September 17

Stadia for Android TV bug freezes controls when you pause a game, Google is aware

Google Stadia makes it pretty easy to stream games on your TV, thanks to its new Android TV app, but some users are reporting a pretty frustrating issue. For some reason, the Stadia app for Android TV is leaving controls temporarily broken if a game is paused for too long.

Android TV Stories September 16

The latest update to the Google TV app, in many areas still known as Play Movies & TV, gives us our best look yet at the upcoming phone-based remote for Android TV devices.

Update: As of version 4.28, we’re now able to preview the Quick Settings tile for the Google TV app’s upcoming remote.

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Android TV Stories September 14

As we reported earlier this year, Anker-brand Nebula has quietly released its Android TV streaming dongle this week with Google’s reference design remote and a fairly hefty price tag.

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Android TV Stories September 11

Walmart Onn box gets Android TV update w/ new security patch, freezing issue fixes, more

Walmart introduced the most affordable Android TV device to date earlier this year, and as we covered, they’re pretty decent. However, update support is always questionable on super-cheap devices, but it seems Walmart is up to the task as the first notable update for the Onn Android TV box has just rolled out.

Android TV Stories August 27

Android TV system updates are less crucial than their phone counterpart, but they’re still a good sign of commitment from a manufacturer. For years now, the Nvidia Shield TV series has been stuck on Android 9 and, now, the company has confirmed it won’t see Android 10 at all.

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Android TV Stories August 10

Report: Android TV has made ‘strong gains,’ smart TVs could be in 50% of global households in 5 years

Google has had a renewed interest in the TV market over the past year or two, and it seems those efforts are paying off. A new report projects the growth of smart TVs over the next few years and notes that Android TV has made “strong gains.”

Android TV Stories August 7

Marvel pushing Shang-Chi on Android TV w/ one of the first ads for content you can’t watch

Google has raised some controversy over the past year or two with the wide rollout of “Cinematic Highlights” for recommended content on the homescreen of Android TV and Google TV. These ads are generally for content from various streaming services, including Disney+, HBO Max, and more. However, an ad from Marvel on the Android TV homescreen is also one of the first ads for something you can’t actually watch.

Android TV Stories August 4

The arrival of Google TV has pushed the direction of Android TV, for better or for worse. Following a redesign based on Google TV earlier this year, more features are coming over to Android TV, including support for the watchlist and more.

Update 8/4: This feature is now rolling out widely.

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Android TV Stories August 3

Android TV is based on the same OS on your smartphone, but generally speaking, major updates are far and few in between. Most devices today are based on Android 10, with very few on 11. Now, though, the custom ROM LineageOS is bringing Android TV 11 to some devices, including possibly Google’s Chromecast.

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Android TV Stories July 29

Cloud gaming is expanding in huge ways right now, and Android TV saw a big release there last month with the debut of Google’s Stadia platform on Android TV and Google TV devices. Xbox Game Pass, despite supporting Android, hasn’t supported Android TV since its launch, but it seems that may be changing.

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Android TV Stories July 23

As Google’s Android TV platform continues to expand, the TVs running it are only getting better. For the past couple of months, I’ve been using the Hisense U8G that runs Android TV with a great display, and importantly, much better software performance than I expected.

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Android TV Stories July 19

Apple TV app gets an Android TV update, hopefully to squash widespread HDR, crashing issues

As its subscription-based streaming service pushes forward, Apple brought its Apple TV app to Android TV earlier this year, with support for originals and your iTunes library. As great as that was, though, the Apple TV app on Android has been plagued by a list of issues that could even crash the app.

Android TV Stories July 16

Android 12 has brought a ton of new changes to smartphones, as we’ve detailed over the past few months. However, Android TV and Google TV are known for providing most updates independent of system versions. In Android TV 12 Beta 3, though, there are a few minor tweaks to Google TV and Android. Here’s what we’ve found.

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Android TV Stories July 14

While Android 12 builds have been available for Android TV for months now, there have been no visible changes to the platform to date. Today, though, Google has finally detailed what’s new in Android TV 12, most notably delivering long-overdue support for 4K UI rendering.

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Android TV Stories July 5

Google Stadia took its sweet time expanding beyond just the Chromecast Ultra for those who wanted to use their cloud gaming platform on their TVs, but the good news is that the time has finally come. Stadia is now available not just on Chromecast with Google TV, but virtually all Android TV devices. The question begs to be answered, though – does it matter what hardware you’re using?

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Android TV Stories June 29

Walmart’s 4K Android TV box supports HDR, but not Dolby Vision

Android TV has a new budget champion in the incredibly affordable $30 Walmart “onn” box, but details on what HDR formats the device supports have been unknown to date. Now, we’ve got answers.

Android TV Stories June 28

Android TV has evolved over the past several years, most recently with a revamp to its homescreen to be a bit closer to what’s found on Google TV. That new interface arrived on the popular and not-cheap Nvidia Shield TV recently, and so far, there’s been a lot of backlash from the community regarding the arrival of ads on the Android TV homescreen. Where do you stand on it?

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Android TV Stories June 25

Here’s how the remote included with Walmart’s Android TV box works on Chromecast w/ Google TV

Walmart just launched a duo of Android TV streaming devices that are pretty standard but have two compelling selling points. For one, they’re both super cheap, and as a second point, the remote included with Walmart’s Android TV streamers looks really nice. In case you were curious, it does indeed work with the Chromecast with Google TV, but in a limited capacity.

Android TV Stories June 23

TV remotes can end up being a deeply personal thing and the design matters. Some remotes feel cheap in the hand or have buttons that don’t feel nice to press. Others are too thin and have stupid navigation methods and take 6 years to replace with one that’s still too expensive. As Android TV expands, it’s an issue that Google is attempting to curb by setting a standard with the G10 and G20 reference remotes. After using them for a bit, I think they’re a delightful standard for manufacturers to use.

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Android TV Stories June 21

Google is set to officially launch the Stadia for Android TV/Google TV experience on Wednesday, but a trick has been discovered to get playing today.

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Google’s Android TV platform has been around for nearly seven years, but it’s only taken on traction in the past two or three. The reason? Primarily, hardware has been hard to find and, more specifically, affordable hardware. That’s why the Walmart “onn” 4K streaming box is so important — it’s one of the most affordable Android TV devices to date. 

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Android TV Stories June 17

A few months after it was released by Google, the Nvidia Shield TV is officially adopting the latest Android TV homescreen. Starting today, the “Discover” UI is rolling out to users, complete with “content recommendations.”

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Android TV Stories June 10

Google’s efforts with Android TV OS seem to finally be in gear with new hardware, Google TV, and more. As the platform expands, the YouTube app for Android TV has just passed 100 million installs.

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Android TV Stories June 9

It’s been absolutely no secret that Walmart has been working on a duo of Android TV streaming devices, but the lead-up to launch has been a little odd to say the least. Now, though, Walmart has officially started selling its onn-branded Android TV streamers, and we’ve spent a few days with one of them, too.

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Android TV Stories June 7

On June 23, full support for Stadia is coming to the Chromecast with Google TV, along with a handful of other Android TV devices.

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YouTube for Android TV adds playback speed controls in latest update

YouTube for TVs generally lags behind a bit when it comes to new features, but progress is always being made. In the latest quiet update, Google appears to have widely rolled out support for playback speed controls on YouTube for Android TV.

OnePlus TV U1S has an external camera for Google Duo, NFC remote as photos leak [Update]

Over the past couple of years, OnePlus has debuted a collection of Android TV devices in India that deliver high-end panels and unique features but at pretty reasonable prices. Now, it appears a new OnePlus TV is on the horizon with one really timely addition — a built-in camera.

Android TV Stories June 3

Thanks to leaks and listings that have oddly been left public, we know that Walmart is working on two of the most affordable Android TV devices in the US. Now, we’re finally getting a release window for these Walmart Android TV streamers.

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Android TV Stories June 1

Following up on Google’s promise from earlier this year, Apple TV is rolling out to more devices running Android. Starting today, the Apple TV app is now available on all modern Android TV devices.

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After arriving on Chromecast with Google TV earlier this year, Apple TV is further expanding its reach on Android TV devices. Starting today, Apple TV is available on Nvidia Shield.

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Based on some early listings and a few leaks, Walmart may soon start a wave in the Android TV space with super-affordable “onn” branded streaming devices. Now, ahead of release, the Walmart Android TV devices have started showing up at some retail stores for purchase.

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Android TV Stories May 31

Up until this past year, Google’s Android TV has lacked the cheap hardware that pushed competitors like Roku and Fire TV to the masses. Now, Walmart is looking to wage a war on price by debuting an ultra-cheap $25 Android TV streaming stick.

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Android TV Stories May 28

The Nvidia Shield TV may very well be the best-supported Android device of all time, and today, yet another update is rolling out. Shield TV 8.2.3 is showing up for some users with a new security patch and some feature adds, but also a problem on some units.

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Android TV Stories May 27

Leaks have hit the web over the past few months regarding Walmart’s upcoming “Onn”-branded Android TV box, but now we’re getting a clearer picture. AFTVNews has managed to get its hands on the unreleased device, showing off the physical hardware in detail, including its retail packaging.

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Android TV Stories May 26

Philips’ latest collection of Android TVs brings OLED, HDMI 2.1, more

The Android TV space is growing considerably and includes TVs of all sizes, types, and prices. This week, Philips has announced a new range of OLED TVs powered by Google’s Android TV that will be coming to Europe.

Android TV Stories May 25

Anker teases Nebula Android TV dongle w/ 4K, Google remote, coming later this year

Anker’s Nebula brand makes some really good Android TV-powered projectors, but now the brand is expanding to a streaming dongle. Ahead of its release later this year, the company has shown off the design.

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