Philo on Android TV

You might be tempted, having watched Tuesday's Google I/O keynote, to declare Android TV a dead operating system. After all, it's quite a long time since it's seen any new hardware for which we can be excited, and the scant bit of Android TV news to come out Shoreline was decidedly developer focused.

But, no. Android TV is not dead. It's just that the operative words this week have been "Coming later this year."

Consider:

  • A revamped Google Play Store on Android TV. Coming later this year.
  • The ability to use your voice and Google Assistant to easily switch over to live TV. Coming later this year.
  • PIN logins for easier access to your favorite apps, and for easier payment. Also coming later this year.

And that's just the stuff we know about and was discussed at Google I/O.

Log in with a PIN code in Android TV ... later this year.

Plus Google was still promoting the fact that there are more than 5,000 apps for Android TV, and 1,000 streaming content providers. Those are vanity numbers, to be sure. There certainly are not 5,000 apps you just have to download, and 1,000 streams you just have to watch. But neither is the ecosystem a barren wasteland, even if it's still being shunned by the likes of DirecTV Now, and stuck with a hamstrung app from Hulu.

The dearth of new hardware – or at least new hardware worth talking about, given the decided thud produced by the last couple of U.S. releases from Xiaomi — is annoying, for sure. There are only so many ways we can say that NVIDIA Shield remains the best Android TV box you can buy, even years after its release. (And it's certainly not a perfect device, even as powerful as it is.)

But more certainly is coming later this year. At the very least, updated home screens and Play Stores and features. More likely something a little more definitive, in the form of a standalone event, or perhaps part of the fall bonanza that has become an annual thing for Google. New hardware isn't certain until it is, but I certainly wouldn't bet against it.

Was Android TV news slow this developer conference? Yeah, a little. That's not to diminish what was announced, though. Discovering apps is important. Being able to more easily sign into apps — and to reduce payment friction — is hugely important, if not all that sexy a headline.

But, no. Android TV is not dead. Not by a long shot.

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