What is Android TV? Google’s smart TV platform fully explained

What is Android TV? Google’s smart TV platform fully explained

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Living successful the aforesaid campy arsenic Samsung’s Smart TV Hub, LG’s WebOS, and Vizio’s SmartCast, Android TV is simply a astute TV strategy designed and engineered by Google and utilized crossed a assortment of TV brands from Sony and Hisense to TCL. Featuring Google Assistant support, the quality to “cast” apps from a compatible instrumentality to your TV, and a scope of different features, Android TV is simply a apical canine successful the satellite of TV streaming, but what genuinely sets it isolated from the scope of different astute TV platforms?

Even with Google’s latest Google TV interface acceptable to regenerate Android TV by the extremity of 2022, the fashionable media streaming level is inactive applicable and worthy explaining. Here’s everything you request to cognize astir Android TV.

An important enactment connected Android TV and Google TV

The Android TV interface connected  a TV.Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

In 2021, Google began rolling retired a ample update to the Android TV platform. This update included galore changes, a caller interface, and a caller sanction — Google TV. Google TV is designed to beryllium much personalized than Android TV, with Google’s A.I. capabilities moving down the scenes to find recommended content. The layout has besides changed to go easier to rapidly navigate and much versatile for a assortment of activities. However, it’s nary longer called Android TV.

Some older devices that were utilizing Android TV tin beryllium updated to follow immoderate of the Google TV features and the caller interface, on with the caller name. If you precocious updated your instrumentality and recovered that references to Android TV had vanished, this is astir apt why.

Newer devices are adopting Google TV from the outset, truthful if you bargain a caller Sony TV and even immoderate caller TCL TVs today, it volition travel loaded with Google TV, not Android TV. Google’s ain Chromecast has besides been updated to the caller version, which is officially called the Chromecast with Google TV.

As mentioned, Google has plans to completely regenerate Android TV with Google TV by the extremity of 2022.

Note that the capabilities and astir of the existent level stay the aforesaid arsenic Android TV. Google TV conscionable includes immoderate caller exertion and a caller look to marque the astir of the latest features. Your Google Account connection, etc., volition relation the aforesaid way.

All that said, the accusation we’ve gathered beneath is inactive accurate, and we’re keeping it astir arsenic the accommodation from Android TV to Google TV continues.

What is Android TV?

 Android TV streaming instrumentality  and controller connected  table.Walmart

Android TV — arsenic you whitethorn person guessed from the sanction — is simply a mentation of Google’s Android mobile operating strategy that has been specially configured for TVs. But that statement doesn’t truly convey however antithetic Android TV is from Android.

Android TV puts a absorption connected helping you observe the contented you tin bask connected your TV, whether it’s done 1 of your subscription services similar Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, oregon Google Play Music, oregon from your ain idiosyncratic media postulation via media halfway bundle similar Plex.

Because of that focus, Android TV looks precise antithetic from Android. Instead of being greeted by a surface afloat of apps oregon widgets similar search, weather, oregon stocks, your device’s media apps are displayed arsenic “ribbons” — a horizontally scrolling acceptable of recommendations and precocious viewed contented from wrong a peculiar app.

The Netflix app, for instance, volition amusement you a ribbon of thumbnails from your in-progress, ticker next, and recommended shows and movies.

Android TV tin entree the Google Play app store, wherever you’ll find thousands of apps that person been designed specifically for Android TV’s 10-foot experience, which means you won’t beryllium struggling to work tiny substance oregon trying to navigate apps that lone enactment erstwhile you tin swipe with a finger.

Embedded wrong each mentation of Android TV is the Google Assistant, which gives you dependable power for your TV content, arsenic good arsenic each of your astute location products. Google’s Chromecast exertion is besides included, letting you formed videos and initiate surface sharing from compatible smartphones, browsers, and apps.

Much similar the Roku OS, Amazon’s Fire TV OS, oregon Apple’s tvOS, Android TV supports a wide assortment of TV features, similar 4K UltraHD, HDR, and Dolby Atmos. Whether you tin instrumentality vantage of these features volition beryllium connected the instrumentality that has Android TV installed. The hardware (and your chosen app) indispensable enactment these features earlier Android TV lets you usage them.

Android TV has been Google’s flagship astute TV and media streaming platform, but it wasn’t the company’s archetypal footwear astatine this can. In 2010, Google TV (the operating system, not to beryllium confused with the existent Google TV interface) was created arsenic an aboriginal effort astatine a astute TV experience. When that task yet fell nether Google’s ax successful 2015, astir of the improvement enactment was funneled into Android TV, which had been released the erstwhile year.

How bash I get Android TV?

Nvidia Shield 16gb Android TV with controller connected  top.Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Android TV, until recently, came pre-installed arsenic the default astute TV idiosyncratic acquisition connected prime TVs from TCL, Sony, Hisense, Sharp, Philips, and more.

You tin besides adhd Android TV to immoderate existing TV that has an HDMI port, with an Android TV set-top container from companies similar Nvidia, AirTV, and Xiaomi. Prices for these devices scope from $60 to $200.

If you’d similar your Android TV built-in to a soundbar, you’ll beryllium a spot much hard-pressed to find one. The 2019 JBL Link Bar, which packed some Android TV and Google Assistant into a azygous location theatre speaker, was 1 of the lone options astir but has been discontinued for immoderate time.

But each is not lost, arsenic Verizon’s Stream TV Soundbar with Bang & Olufsen Audio has arrived, an fantabulous $400 soundbar that uses the Android TV level for each happening streaming. The Stream TV besides supports Google Assistant, Dolby Atmos, and includes 2 HDMI inputs for immoderate A/V components you usage the most.

If you subscribe to DirecTV Stream’s services, you mightiness already person an Android TV device. The institution uses a customized mentation of Android TV connected its set-top boxes, which is wherefore it works with the Google Play Store and has Google Assistant dependable entree from the remote.

Amazon’s Fire TV is often listed arsenic an Android TV device, but don’t beryllium fooled. Amazon utilized the open-source mentation of the Android OS to make its Fire TV OS, but it has precise small successful communal with Google’s Android TV.

Similarly, beware of alleged Android TV boxes from brands you don’t recognize. There are tons of these connected Amazon and sites similar GearBest but they aren’t existent Android TV devices. Instead, they usage the non-TV mentation of Android and vessel without dependable remotes. For an updated database of each official Android TV devices, cheque retired Google’s merchandise page.

You whitethorn beryllium wondering wherefore Google itself doesn’t merchantability an Android TV device. The institution did instrumentality a ace astatine it with the now-defunct Nexus Player device, but since its demise successful 2016, determination was a spread successful Google’s Android TV beingness that its Chromecast devices didn’t fill. And portion Google ne'er did rectify this with its Chromecast devices, successful 2020 they did yet merchandise the Chromecast with Google TV, a Chromecast with an included distant — albeit, with the caller Google TV interface, not Android TV.

How bash I acceptable up and usage Android TV?

The Android TV setup screen.Nvidia.com

While it’s imaginable to usage basal Android TV features without a Google account, if you privation to download further apps oregon usage the Google Assistant, a Google relationship is required. You’ll beryllium asked to participate your Google relationship erstwhile you archetypal acceptable up your Android TV device. If you already ain different Android instrumentality similar a telephone oregon tablet, you tin usage it to velocity up the setup process.

You’ll beryllium asked to take a Wi-Fi web (if you don’t person an Ethernet connection) and reply a fewer questions astir locations and preferences — immoderate of which volition alteration by instrumentality type. At the extremity of the abbreviated process, you’ll get astatine the Android TV location screen.

Android TV devices, whether they’re TVs oregon outer set-top boxes, travel with voice-capable distant controls. Once you crook the instrumentality connected and the location leafage displays connected your screen, you tin navigate the interface utilizing the remote’s directional and participate buttons. A Back fastener lets you instrumentality to a erstwhile surface oregon menu, portion the Home fastener returns you to the location screen. The apical ribbon ever shows your database of installed apps, for speedy access, with a nexus to the Google Play Store truthful you tin spell get much apps astatine immoderate time.

But to get the astir retired of Android TV’s features, you’ll privation to summon Google Assistant. Depending connected your device, you mightiness beryllium capable to telephone out, “Hey, Google,” for a hands-free experience, but you tin ever usage the Mic fastener connected the remote. When you do, there’s nary request to preface your commands with “Hey, Google,” due to the fact that arsenic soon arsenic you property the button, it’s listening for instructions.

What are immoderate Android TV dependable commands?

To a definite extent, what you tin inquire Android TV to bash via Google Assistant volition beryllium connected which streaming services you person entree to. For instance, “Play Stranger Things connected Netflix,” volition lone enactment if you person a Netflix subscription; however, plentifulness of commands are universal, specified as:

  • “Play immoderate jazz music.”
  • “Play,” “pause,” “stop,” and “resume” portion watching immoderate video.
  • “Louder” and “softer” for measurement control.
  • “Open [app name]” to unfastened immoderate installed app.
  • “Show maine the formed of Friends.”
  • “Tell maine astir The Witcher.

In addition, you tin usage immoderate of Google Assistant’s astute location commands, which alteration based connected which astute location devices you person connected your location network.

What are immoderate fashionable Android TV apps?

A surface  of Android TV apps.

Needless to say, Netflix is conscionable astir the astir fashionable app connected each streaming media platform, and Android TV is nary exception. You’ll find astir of the different large streaming services too, but determination are occasional compatibility issues. The Amazon Prime Video app, for instance, works conscionable fine, but astatine the infinitesimal it doesn’t amusement up arsenic its ain ribbon with recommended oregon proceed watching options.

There are besides plentifulness of different lesser-known apps worthy installing. Here are a fewer choices to get you started:

Hulu + Live TV

For years, Hulu refused to update its Android TV app. This meant that the unrecorded TV enactment was simply unavailable to Android TV users. That finally changed successful 2019, and present Hulu + Live TV joins Sling and YouTube TV as 1 of the galore large options cord-cutters tin bask connected Android TV.


Kodi is simply a almighty media halfway app that tin find and signifier each of your idiosyncratic media into an easy-to-navigate interface, with enactment for conscionable astir each media record benignant you tin deliberation of. Highly customizable, Kodi has a estimation arsenic an app that volition fto you watercourse Hollywood movies for free, but beryllium warned: This benignant of enactment connected Kodi is not officially supported and is simply a ineligible grey area, to accidental the least. We urge checking retired our full Kodi explainer earlier you find yourself connected the receiving extremity of a cease-and-desist order.


A surface  of downloaded movies connected  the Plex system.

Similar to Kodi, Plex uses a client/server statement to fto you presumption and play your idiosyncratic media files and overmuch more. It’s a acold much almighty and enjoyable mode of experiencing your movies, music, and photos than simply sticking a USB thrust successful the backmost of your set-top container oregon TV. We’ve got a full usher to utilizing Plex that volition assistance you get the astir retired of it, whether you usage it connected Android TV oregon the dozens of different devices it supports.


Android TV already supports surface mirroring from Android devices via Chromecast, but iOS users request a solution, too. That’s wherever AirScreen comes in. Fire it up and your Android TV volition amusement up arsenic a selectable AirPlay instrumentality successful the iOS Control Center. That’s each determination is to it.

Puffin TV Browser

Surprisingly, fixed that Google is the driving unit down Chrome, 1 of the astir fashionable web browsers connected the planet, Android TV does not travel with a built-in browser of immoderate kind. Puffin TV is 1 of galore apps connected the Google Play Store that seeks to code this evident omission, and it does truthful with an interface that is perfect for TV. Stripped of each but the indispensable functions, it’s a bully mode to rapidly leap connected the web for the occasional task that Google Assistant conscionable can’t handle.


There are tons of games for Android TV — excessively galore to database here. Big titles similar Asphalt 8: Airborne, Zen Pinball, Crossy Road, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, and galore much are disposable done the Google Play Store.

Sideloading apps

If you can’t find what you privation successful the Google Play Store, Android TV has different mode of adding apps called sideloading. Though not arsenic convenient arsenic buying for and installing apps via Google Play, sideloading is sometimes the lone mode to adhd hard-to-find apps.

This guide from How-To Geek explains the process. Keep successful mind, however, that sideloaded apps are not verified independently by Google for things similar malware. There tin besides beryllium compatibility issues, particularly if the app successful question wasn’t designed for Android TV.

Is Android TV the aforesaid connected each instrumentality oregon TV?

Sony Android TV location  screen.

Just similar nary 2 computers moving Windows are precisely alike, determination are immoderate differences from 1 Android TV to another. On a Sony TV, for instance, you’ll find representation calibration settings similar Sony’s proprietary Reality Creation representation processing. You’ll besides spot the enactment for watching live, over-the-air HDTV channels utilizing the TV’s built-in tuner.

Android TV devices from cablegram oregon outer operators similar AT&T are usually customized to spot an accent connected their broadcast and on-demand content.

On the Nvidia Shield TV, you’ll person entree to Nvidia’s GeForce Now gaming store, due to the fact that that peculiar Android TV instrumentality is intended to treble arsenic a almighty gaming platform. As we mentioned above, each this is besides existent of Google TV — portion the level has gotten a caller look, that circumstantial look inactive varies betwixt brands and devices. Generally speaking, the astir “complete” acquisition tin beryllium recovered connected Google’s ain Chromecast.

You whitethorn besides find that owed to differences successful processing power, not each Android TV instrumentality volition beryllium arsenic responsive. Early Sony TVs with Android TV felt somewhat sluggish arsenic their underpowered chips struggled to render the interface and respond to paper choices. New Sony TVs are overmuch improved, and the Nvidia Shield TV remains the golden modular for speedy Android TV show – Nvidia Shield conscionable updated to the newer Android 11, truthful determination are immoderate added caller features determination arsenic well.

The antithetic processing powers aren’t apt to impact the device’s quality to watercourse contented from someplace similar Netflix. However, it volition marque a quality successful apps similar Plex and Kodi, arsenic they necessitate the device’s processor to render assorted media files. This quality whitethorn besides interaction immoderate games.

One much quality you should support an oculus retired for is whether you person 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos support. The Xiaomi Mi Box S, for example, tin grip outputs successful some 4K and HDR, but it doesn’t enactment immoderate precocious situation dependable formats.

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