Thanks to streaming services, it’s easier than ever to find the shows, films, sports, and more that you want to watch. However, keeping track of all your different subscriptions and all of the various content on offer can be a problem.
Android TV aims to solve that problem. It offers a simple and intuitive way for people to manage their streaming services, access streaming apps, and stream media on their TVs. This guide will cover all you need to know about Android TV, from what it is to how it works.
What Is Android TV?
So what is Android TV? Simply put, Android TV is a smart TV operating system, designed to run on smart television sets and other devices like digital media players and set-top boxes. It was designed and developed by Google and built on the Android framework, hence the name.
Launched back in 2014, Android TV has steadily improved over the years as new versions and updates have been released. New features and functions have been added over time, too. The system has become widely available on an increasingly broad selection of devices.
Like other similar systems, such as Roku OS for Roku devices and Fire OS for Amazon Fire TV devices, Android TV is designed to allow users to browse through apps and play streaming media on their TVs.
In other words, you can use Android TV on your smart TV to browse through different streaming apps, like HBO Go and Disney+. Users can then load these apps, find content to watch, and play it directly on their TV or other devices.
Some of the features offered by Android TV include voice input. It allows users to search with their voices, and universal search, which lets you search for a movie or show across lots of different streaming services to find where to watch it.
For 2022, it’s important to note that Android TV is gradually being replaced with Google TV. Google TV is still basically the same product as Android TV, but it has been re-branded and redesigned, with a host of new features (more details on this are provided below).
What Kind of Devices Run Android TV?
So, how can you use Android TV? Well, you’ll need to have a device that is compatible with this operating system. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there, as Android TV is one of the most widely-used smart TV operating systems available.
- Smart TVs – Android TV is built-in with many smart TV models from brands such as Sony, Sharp, Philips, Arcelik, Bang & Olufsen, Hisense, RCA, TCL Corporation, Vestel, Realme, and OnePlus
- Set-Top Boxes – Android TV is also available on a wide range of set-top boxes from different television providers and other companies around the world, from the BBox Miami in France to the Unifi Plus Box in Malaysia. Android TV also runs on popular set-top boxes available in North America, like NVIDIA Shield and Xiaomi Mi Box S.
- Other Devices – Android TV can also be found running on various other devices, including the Nokia Media Streamer, Walmart Onn Android TV Box, TiVo Stream 4K, Verizon Stream TV, and Xiaomi Mi TV Stick.
As Android TV evolves further into its new variation of Google TV, we may expect the service to become available on an even wider range of platforms and devices.
What is Happening to Android TV?
As stated above, Android TV is undergoing some major changes at the moment. The OS is officially being re-branded as Google TV. This can be confusing to some people. But a simple way to understand it is to simply see Google TV as the new version of Android TV.
It’s the same product in many ways, built on the same technology. The difference is that the name has changed to be more in line with other Google services, and various new features have been added to improve the user experience.
Some of the new features included with Google TV include:
- A New Interface – The new interface of Google TV is very different from the old Android TV interface of previous versions. The Home Screen has been completely revamped to focus more on individual shows, movies, and pieces of content, as opposed to being a menu of apps, as it was in the past.
- Personalization – Another big addition to Google TV is the increased focus on user-specific recommendations. When you load up Google TV, you’ll see tailored recommendations of films and shows to watch, based on your past viewing habits.
- Live TV – There’s also a new Live tab in the Google TV menu. This tab is entirely dedicated to live TV streaming and broadcasts. It allows users to browse through different channels, from sources like YouTube TV, in order to watch films, shows, and sports in real-time.
- Mobile Enhancements – With Google TV, using your cell phone or tablet as a remote control has never been easier. Users can use their mobile device’s touchscreens to interact with the smart TV interface. You can even update your watchlist via your mobile device without even needing to be near the TV.
- Multiple Accounts – Google TV also allows for multiple user accounts on the same system or device. So, if you have a large family and everyone has their own tastes and preferences, individual accounts can be made for each person. This allows everyone to get their own unique recommendations and build their own watchlists.
What Is the Difference Between Android TV and an Android Box?
If you’re new to the world of Android TV and TV boxes, you may be confused between devices that actually include the Android TV OS and devices that are simply “powered by Android”.
While the two may sound similar, there are actually some very big differences between them. It’s therefore important to be able to distinguish between Android TV and a box or device that is powered by Android.
As explained above, Android TV is the name of the operating system used on various smart TVs and set-top boxes. There are also some boxes and devices out there that use the “Android” brand name in their descriptions or marketing.
However, more often than not, these cheap boxes actually run an old, mobile version of the Android OS. They are also sometimes known as Kodi boxes, and even though they can be highly affordable, you may have some problems when using them.
Cheap Android boxes using the mobile version of Android can, for example, run poorly on TVs, as the OS is designed for much smaller screens, like those of mobile phones and tablets. The interface can therefore be quite clunky and awkward to navigate.
In addition, when using an Android box, you may inadvertently download and try to use apps that haven’t been optimized for TVs. This can lead to reliability issues and compatibility problems.
Therefore, even though Android TV and Android boxes sound similar, they offer totally different experiences. If you want the best in modern smart TV streaming, Android TV is the way to go.