Android TV: All the products that work with Google’s TV OS
Android TV is the name of the TV operating system that’s developed in-house at Google. It’s different than Google TV (a defunct moniker for Google’s play into the living room space) and it definitely isn’t related to Chrome in any way. The best description for Android TV is that it’s a smart entertainment platform. It comes built into a number of TVs (primarily from Sony, Sharp and LeEco) but also in a number of streaming video players like the Nvidia Shield.
To that end, think of Android TV like iOS or Android – it’s an operating system for all of your favorite apps, games, movies, music and TV shows that you navigate with a remote instead of your finger … and you know, on your TV.
Of course, there are a half-dozen other smart TV platforms out there these days: LG has webOS 3.5, Samsung has Tizen and Roku has, well, Roku. All of these platforms have something special that makes them unique and potentially a better fit for you and your entertainment needs.
So what sets Android TV apart from the competition? Why do you want a TV with Android at all? Let’s dive into Android TV’s key features.
Android TV key features
Look, it’s not hard to find a player or TV that streams Netflix. It’s not. But Android TV doesn’t just serve as a static homebase for apps. It’s a dynamic way to find new content and can work like a Chromecast to stream content from your mobile device to the big screen. That being said, here are Android TV’s best features, with descriptions located further down below:
- Curated content on the top row
- Universal search using top apps
- Native IMDB actor and actress bios
- Voice search via remote
- Native Google Cast support
- Tons of games via Google Play Store
- Google Assistant integration
Curated content: One of Android TV’s most admirable skills is its ability to analyze the kind of content you usually watch, play and listen to, and recommend similar content. You can find recommendations in the top row of the Android TV interface, where you’ll usually find a mix of content from YouTube, Google Play Movies and TV and the Google Play Store.
Universal search: Of course, if you don’t see what you’re looking for in the curated content row, you can also search for content either using the search bar at the top of the Android TV interface or the voice search button on your remote. Android TV crawls a number of services including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Google Play Movies and TV to find what you’re looking for, and usually lists the lowest price first.
Native IMDB support: Say you just saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and you want to see what other films Chris Pratt was in. Search Chris Pratt on Android TV and you’ll find every title the actor has ever been in. Click a TV show and you’ll find a synopsis, where you can watch the show and the rest of the show’s cast. It’s a pretty handy feature.
Voice search via the remote: Instead of scrolling all the way up to the top of the interface and painfully typing out the name of the show, movie or actor you’re looking for, you can simply speak the name into the Android TV remote. It’s a huge time-saver.
Native Google Cast support: All Android TV players and TVs have Google Cast built-in. That means you can stream content from your device to your TV whenever you see the Google Cast icon. This is sometimes referred to as Chromecast built-in.
Games via the Google Play Store: Fancy yourself a game of Pong between seasons of Breaking Bad? Android TV has more games on its store than any other TV operating system. Like Android on phones, some games are free and others cost money.
Google Assistant integration: New for 2017 is the integration of Google Assistant into Android TV. Google Assistant on Android TV is the same one that’s built into the Google Home and some higher-end Android phones. For the most part, it’s a lot like Siri or Cortana – Google Assistant can make calendar appointments, check your to-do list and answer inquiries about popular topics, but what makes it unique is that it also can control your smart home products like thermometers, light bulbs and smart locks, too.