Android TV Overview Updated June 16, 2021

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731 'Android TV' stories

May 2011 - January 2022

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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 January 19

The Shield TV just got its Android TV 11 update last week, but in the time since many Shield TV owners have come out in frustration regarding various bugs surrounding the update. Now, Nvidia has confirmed it’s working with Google and Plex to patch these problems.

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Android TV Stories January 18

The smart TV market continues to grow in size, and on a global scale, it’s a market that’s saturated with different operating systems for these various TVs and brands. In a new report, one market analyst says 2022 will be a “decisive” year for smart TVs, as Android TV OS and Roku compete.

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Android TV Stories January 17

Android TV 11 for Shield TV seems to cause issues with some apps and break Plex servers

The Nvidia Shield TV is perhaps the single best-supported Android device of all time, with models from 2015 and on getting updated to Android 11 earlier this month. However, it seems that Android 11 update is breaking Plex servers and causing other issues for some Shield TV owners.

Android TV Stories January 12

The Nvidia Shield TV has been the best Android TV box on the market for years, and this week Nvidia is continuing support for every single model it has ever released with the Android TV 11 update, rolling out now.

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Android TV Stories January 7

YouTube creator-backed service Nebula debuts an official Android TV app

Android TV is adding another popular service this week with the arrival of an official app for the service Nebula, which has been growing on content made by various YouTube creators.

Android TV Stories January 6

While Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV are often the first thing people think of when it comes to home entertainment platforms, Google’s Android TV OS is growing quickly. This week, Google has confirmed that Android TV and Google TV have over 110 million devices, among other details.

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Android TV Stories January 5

Google’s Fast Pair system allows Android users to easily connect their headphones to smartphones and tablets, and going into 2022 it’s expanding. Fast Pair is coming to Google TV and Android TV OS devices.

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Android TV Stories January 4

As Google TV takes over the company’s strategy for the living room, Hisense is joining the club as it transitions from Android TV to Google TV on its 2022 lineup. Here’s what’s coming.

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TCL sells over 10 million TVs with Android TV and Google TV in a year

Google’s ambitions in the living room felt stagnant for a while, but the past couple of years have shown a lot of attention paid to the TV, and it seems to be paying off. Alongside its CES announcements this week, TCL revealed that the company sells over 10 million TVs using Android TV and Google TV each year.

Android TV Stories December 23, 2021

[Update: December 2021] The best Android TV and Google TV devices you can buy today

Android TV OS provides the backbone for streamers of all kinds, with a growing app store and access to major streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and more alongside games both local and streaming from the cloud. Android TV is built into dozens of different TV models, but if you’ve already got a panel you’re happy with, there’s no reason to upgrade just for software. With a simple HDMI port, you can refresh your TV with Android TV powering the experience. Here are the best Android TV set-top boxes in 2021 you can do that with.

Android TV Stories December 16, 2021

‘Xiaomi TV Stick 4K’ goes official w/ Android TV 11 and the same storage limits as Chromecast

Xiaomi has been a relatively big partner for Google’s Android TV platform for the past few years, and today the company is launching another new streaming stick. The “Xiaomi TV Stick 4K” has Android TV 11 and a mid-range price, and it should go on sale pretty soon.

Shield TV’s Android TV 11 update shows up in recovery images as launch nears

Android TV 11 hasn’t rolled out to many devices, but it really looks like Nvidia is about to push the update to its Shield TV lineup. After two other leaks in recent memory, Nvidia briefly posted the recovery images for the Shield’s Android TV 11 update this week.

Android TV Stories December 8, 2021

Many Android TV devices don’t often get major upgrades, and the ones that do usually only get that level of support for a couple of years or so. Nvidia, however, is the exception to the rule with its Shield TV still being supported to this day, and it seems even the original model could be getting Android TV 11 very soon.

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Android TV Stories December 7, 2021

Security patches have proved a valuable tool for keeping Android devices secure, but Android TV OS devices are often an afterthought in this process. With a renewed interest in the platform with Google TV and the release of Android 12, Google will begin releasing security bulletins for Android TV OS.

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Android TV Stories December 6, 2021

The almost-absurdly cheap Android TV streaming devices from Walmart deliver a pretty solid experience on the whole and, to the retail giant’s credit, update support has been relatively good. This week, Walmart is rolling out a new update to its Android TV devices with a new security patch and better HDR handling.

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Android TV Stories December 1, 2021

Google’s Android TV platform is picking up steam with bigger commitments from the company itself as well as exciting new hardware releases. Now, Google is making it easier for those with an Android phone to install apps on their Android TV remotely.

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Following two generations of Android TV streaming boxes, Verizon is today launching a pair of soundbars based on the same OS. The Verizon Stream TV Soundbar and Soundbar Pro are now available for order – here’s what they bring to the table.

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Android TV Stories November 30, 2021

A bit behind its launch on smartphones, Android 12 has just officially launched on Android TV. Unfortunately, it’s unclear when it will actually arrive on consumer devices.

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Android TV Stories November 29, 2021

Google has said before that the TV is one of the biggest areas where YouTube is growing, and as such the company has been improving its YouTube app on smart TV platforms. This week, the YouTube app for TVs is changing how it handles playlists.

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Android TV Stories November 24, 2021

New Android TV, Chromecast with Google TV devices get six free months of Peacock Premium

NBC is giving away six free months of Peacock Premium to new owners of Android and Google TV devices in a long-running offer that will be available all of next year.

Android TV Stories November 22, 2021

TikTok is now available on Google TV, Android TV devices in the US and Canada

The short-form video app and global phenomenon TikTok is expanding further on Google TV and Android TV, bringing the app to users in the US and Canada.

Android TV Stories November 19, 2021

YouTube on Android TV and Google TV devices are now seeing a limited rollout of autoplay video previews for all content on site.

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Android TV Stories November 15, 2021

With retail’s biggest day of the year around the corner, Roku has just announced its new “Roku LE,” a super-affordable streaming device that’s designed just for Black Friday.

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Android TV Stories November 9, 2021

As promised last month, the Google Home app now features a built-in remote to control your Android/Google TV. Starting on Android, you no longer have to use the Google TV app or the included physical remote to control your television.

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Android TV Stories November 8, 2021

You can now buy the Google TV reference remote separately for any Android TV device

The Google G10 reference remote is due to arrive on more Android TV devices, but sadly it’s not sold officially as a universal replacement. Luckily, there’s a way to buy it without wasting money on an entire additional streamer, as Mecool is selling its Google TV G10 remote on its own, and it works as an excellent replacement remote for virtually any Android TV device.

Android TV Stories October 18, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

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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