Google on Monday announced a series of updates for developers building apps for Android TV, the version of the operating system tailored for smart TVs and streaming devices. The tech giant also shared new stats to highlight Android TV's growth in the smart TV market.
The platform now works with seven of the top 10 smart TV OEMs and over 160 TV operators, Google said Monday. There are about 7,000 apps for Google Play on Android TV. Meanwhile, there are over 80 percent more Android TV monthly active devices than a year ago.
The new developer features are focused on improving user engagement, as well as making it easier to acquire and monetize users.
To create a more engaging user experience, Google is making typing on TV easier with new layouts and features for Gboard TV, the Google TV keyboard. The new features include speech-to-text and predictive typing.
Meanwhile, to improve the TV gaming experience, the new auto low latency mode lets you disable post-processing on Android TV and minimize latency whenever a gaming application is shown fullscreen.
There are also improvements to the leanback library designed to simplify app navigation.
To help developers attract more users, Android TV is introducing Google Play Instant on TV, which lets users try an app instantly, without installing it. To make purchases easier, Android TV app users will soon be able to purchase content with a PIN code instead of a password on Google Play.
Lastly, the Android TV emulator now supports Google Play, so developers can test subscriptions without having to rely on real devices.
Android TV launched in 2014, a year after Google launched its Chromecast device (a dongle that lets users stream content from their mobile devices onto their televisions). Google has delivered the Android TV platform to users through partnerships with smart TV manufacturers like Sony and Hisense, streaming device makers like Nvidia and Xiaomi, and with TV service providers like AT&T.
While Android TV is growing, Roku has come to dominate the market for streaming TV platforms, accounting for more than 30 percent of all connected TV device sales in the US, according to 2019 data. Amazon Fire TV is Roku's biggest competitor.
As users discover more content and apps they can access via smart TVs, Android TV could play a growing role in Google's ambitions to build out an intelligent, ambient computing ecosystem.