When Android runs on a TV, it's still Android, there are just a few checks in place to make sure users aren't installing unprepared phone apps to their big screens all willy-nilly, creating the kind of awful UI experience that could make a techie cry and any one else scrunch their face in confusion. In a way, Google's only trying to protect us from ourselves. Most TV viewers will want nothing to do with such shenanigans, so only apps that have been updated and declared compatible with Android TV work with the platform out of the box.
You may cease panicking—the Nexus Player is available for pre-order in the Play Store again after paying a visit to the FCC over the weekend. Google stopped taking orders for the device shortly after it went live on Friday when someone realized the FCC hadn't actually approved the device. The wait wasn't long, though.
If you've spent any time in Google's ecosystem of hardware and software, you're no stranger to impatiently waiting to receive a firmware update. Hey, we've all been there. While we know the ADT-1 is set to receive an OTA to Android 5.0, it seems Google is still holding back a full rollout despite the very small number of units in circulation. If you don't feel like waiting for your number to come up, it's possible to sideload the update manually onto your ADT-1 and take advantage of everything it has to offer.
There's a new Nexus in town (another one) today, and this one's headed straight for the big screen: as in, your TV. The Nexus Player runs Android TV with a 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor and talks to the web via a 2x2 AC Wi-Fi connection (there is no ethernet port). It's built in "collaboration" with ASUS.
Connecting to your TV is accomplished via HDMI. The Nexus Player will ship with full Google Cast (aka Chromecast) capabilities baked in, essentially negating the need for a Chromecast on the connected TV.
Those few Android developers and other fanatics who got a pricey Golden Ticket to Google I/O are the first to experience Android TV, thanks to the ADT-1 developer set-top boxes that were distributed at the show. They get to try out all the cool new Android TV apps months before everyone else. Except today - today, AOL allows those users to feel solidarity with everyone else, because there are new apps that they can't play with.
Update: Because there is apparent confusion about this, Nexus TV is not Android TV. Nexus TV, a cancelled project which is now known as ADT-1, is hardware. Android TV is software. Nexus TV would have run Android TV, as the ADT-1 does. Android TV is not directly implicated in this news, but it is obviously relevant. This is about a hardware team at Google - not a software one.
It's always interesting to hear internal Google gossip, and The Information's got a couple of tidbits this morning that are worth looking over.
Today, the CEO of Unity Technology David Helgason announced a collaboration with Intel to add x86 support to the company's wildly popular Unity 3D game engine. The news was presented during the keynote speech at the Unite 2014 game developers conference alongside announcements for upcoming support of Samsung's Smart TVs and Google's Android TV.
Helgason delivered the information pretty quickly, but it's not the kind of thing that requires a long introduction.
Google's announcement of Android TV made it clear that a final product wasn't ready for store shelves, but it was certainly getting close. While Google is finishing up the software and hardware for an official release later this year, developers have been invited to begin work on their own apps. For most, that means firing up an emulator to test on, but a few have also been granted access to a preview device called ADT-1.
If you couldn't make it to Google I/O, and thus couldn't get one of the first Android TV units as part of the developer swag, you can still start developing your apps for the platform's retail debut later in 2014. Google has included Android TV modules in the official Android SDK, underneath the Android L (API 20) package. That includes an emulator specifically for TV, so you should be able to build and test apps without any extra hardware.