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At Google I/O 2021, the Android TV team announced an important milestone — the platform now has 80 million monthly active devices, with more than 80% growth in the US alone. But the team isn't resting on its laurels. Instead, Google announced that the Android 12 Beta is coming to its development box today, the ADT-3, along with sharing that the current Android 11 version of the TV OS will finally be available as an emulator going forward.
As always, you won't have to hold your breath about getting the Android 12 beta on your TV. It's only available on Google's development machine, the ADT-3, which is specifically aimed at developers wanting to create apps for the platform. Given that the machine costs $80, the new emulator (pictured above) might be more accessible for smaller indie developers. Google launched it with Android 11, letting developers experience the traditional TV interface in their development environment, complete with a virtual remote.
It's a bummer that the beta isn't coming to Google's official first-party Android TV dongle, the Chromecast with Google TV. However, the device is clearly a consumer product and targeted at regular folks, even more so than than the Pixel phones, which historically grew out of the development-centric Nexus line.
As for the 80 million monthly active devices milestone, it might not sound super impressive, but note that Google is specifically saying devices — not users. That's because many families probably share one or more TVs, so it's hard to tell how many people Google actually reaches with its product — especially since Android TV doesn't support multiple accounts. It's also questionable how much of a difference the Chromecast with Google TV made here, since there's a ton of TVs that come with Android TV pre-installed.
Google also took the opportunity to remind viewers about Stream Transfer (for moving playback between cast devices on the fly) and Stream Expansion (for adding speakers to what's currently playing), both of which have first rolled out in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
The company emphasizes that it's also possible to move streams from your Assistant speakers and displays to your Android TV devices by simply saying "Hey Google, move this to [my TV]." It's positioning this as a new capability, but it actually announced that Stream Transfer would be compatible with "Chromecast-enabled" TVs back in 2019. That makes us doubt that Stream Expansion is brand-new to Android TVs, but it's entirely possible we've just never run into the need for it.