Android TV hits 5000 apps milestone, new hardware expected this year

Android TV has struggled over the years to break into the mainstream with Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV dominating the TV set-top box market. While Android TV may not be the leader right now, new statistics show that it is on the rise.

Shalini Govil-Pai recently stated in an interview that Android TV now has a total of 5,000 apps and games up from 3,000 this time last year. This surge in app development is promising for the stagnant platform as it looks to expand its reach.

Of course, an increase in apps and games don't mean anything if it's not content people need or want. While the numbers are going up the platform is still missing many popular apps such as Discovery, DirecTV Now, Epix, Nick Jr., Watch TNT, and more. Even when some apps are available, it doesn't mean they're fully functional. For example, the Hulu app is out of date and doesn't support the service's live TV streaming.

The tide does seem to be turning, however, as Google and Amazon have recently come to an agreement to allow access to each other's respective streaming services. The NCAA's March Madness app also made an appearance this year just in time for the 2019 tournament. And while Govil-Pai had nothing to say about the missing apps, Google spokesman Ivy Chen says, "there are conversations happening, and we're optimistic for them coming on board."

Google's aspirations for Android TV don't end with video. Once more support for video apps has been added, Google will next look to expand into more fitness and education apps, as well as games for the platform. There is even a redesign for the Play Store in the works with video previews of apps in order to make the experience more cinematic.

Despite having tens of millions of users, the majority of them do not use Android TV set-top boxes. The best Android TV box to date is NVIDIA Shield TV and it is now more than two years old. Google itself hasn't released an Android box since the Nexus Player back in 2014, and we're still waiting on the JBL Link Bar to arrive, which combines a soundbar and Android TV box into one device.

Chen says we can look forward some future hardware announcements in the coming weeks, as well as even more devices expected this fall. That's good news for the platform and comes from Google assuring partners there is a renewed focus on Android TV with Govil-Pai saying:

The fact that Google is investing and is 100 percent committed to it, and we're putting our best foot forward on it, I think that is the change that people are looking for.

For now, the majority of Android TV users are those with TVs and cable boxes running Android TV.

Google is also toying with the notion of allowing users to subscribe directly to channels such as HBO, Showtime, or CBS Now similar to how Roku and Amazon currently do things, instead of using apps. Govil-Pai said, "A lot of our partners have told us that they're having success with the Channels model" and continued by saying:

At the same time, there are other partners who say they will never move away from apps, because apps give us the freedom to have that direct relationship with our consumers.

We expect to see more numbers about the platform on May 7 at Google I/O, but until then, things are looking up for Android TV.

Jason England