Do you like Spotify? Do you want to listen to all of your playlists, stream new albums, and discover interesting artists from your Android TV unit? Until today, you could only use a third-party client (Emma for Spotify) that required a premium account. But today, you can finally use Spotify's own app which doesn't even require a paid account.
"Spotify Music for Android TV" as it is aptly called lets you check your playlists, albums, and tracks, as well as discover new music while also enjoying the album artwork on your TV. Apparently the app says that it requires a gamepad controller, but reviewers on the Play Store are saying it works just fine with a regular Android TV remote or the Android TV remote app.
You might have noticed that there aren't a lot of Android TV boxes around. Aside from the original Nexus Player, the much-recommended NVIDIA SHIELD, and the generally regrettable Razer Forge TV, only a few somewhat random cable boxes and some Sony televisions are using Google's living room version of its mobile OS. But there's a surprise entry announced at Google I/O 2016: Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi. Its "Mi Box" Android TV device ticks all of the hardware boxes, but what's even more surprising is that it's coming to the United States.
I had a quick sit-down with leads on the Android TV and Google Cast team today, and while it's not exactly a huge deal, one of Android TV's oddly lacking features came up: app star ratings and reviews. They don't exist on Android TV.
Well, unsurprisingly, the Android TV team is very much aware of this. Sascha Prüter, Program Manager of Android TV, confirmed that Google is working on the feature, and that challenges on implementation in the area of user experience have been the hold-up. Admittedly, that does seem like a good reason - how are Android TV users, especially those not in the habit of using their phone as a remote, going to input text in an app review?
Android TV didn't get much screen time at the opening keynote of the Google I/O developer conference, but there were a few goodies mentioned for upcoming builds. Specifically, VP of engineering David Burke showed off a new picture-in-picture mode that allows users to continue a streaming video while doing something else in the main ATV user interface, such as performing a voice search or downloading an app.
Sports are more enjoyable on TV than phones and tablets. It's a demonstrable fact. You don't see bars hanging Samsung Galaxy Tabs on walls do you?
It's for this reason that many people will be happy to see ESPN adding support for Android TV. You can see this is the changelog for the ESPN app. Viewers are getting WatchESPN access, with the ability to stream live events.
Android TV may not have caught like wildfire, but it's still an affordable and interesting set-top box offering. If you've already bought a Nexus Player or SHIELD TV unit for example and you've been met by glares from a couple of your family members who own iPhones and iPads and can't control the darn thing with their devices, then you're in for a small surprise today.
Almost two years after it first unveiled Android TV, Google is now releasing the corresponding remote control application to the iTunes App Store. The app looks exactly like the Android app we all know and works in the same way.
One of the biggest problems with TV news is that if you're not interested in a particular story – say, sports or celebrities – you have no option but to sit through it. Haystack TV aims to solve that by turning the news into personalized streams which are curated through artificial intelligence, big data, and editorial decision-making. The idea being that if you're especially interested in finance or international affairs, you can create a TV channel just about that.
In addition to being available through the browser and as a downloadable application for most major smartphone and Internet TV platforms, it is also available for Google's nascent Android TV platform, which can be found running on the latest-and-greatest Sony Smart TVs.
It wouldn't be fair to call the Razer Forge TV a failure. No, that simply wouldn't be right. If I did that, I'd miss the opportunity to call it a half-baked, poorly-supported product that lags behind even the limited field of Android TV devices like a three-legged dog chasing a nitrous-powered mail truck. Almost a year after its US launch the set-top box is still inexplicably incompatible with Netflix, the promised PC game streaming software feature has disappeared, and even after being injected with the decrepit soul of OUYA the Forge is basically a dead platform. But there's one last thing to report on before we can finally lay it to rest: the Turret.
NVIDIA is sending out a new OTA update for the SHIELD Android TV box, and it adds at least one feature people have been anxious to get. When the latest update hits your device, you'll finally be able to use apps with a mouse cursor. There are also optimizations for new games and a number of Marshmallow bug fixes.