Android TV doesn't always feel like it's getting much attention, but the user base has grown substantially in recent history. According to Google, the number of active devices has grown by 80% in the last year, owed largely to adoption by seven out of the top ten smart TV manufacturers and set-top boxes from 160 TV service providers. With so many new users and a continually growing assortment of apps, Google is highlighting changes to the platform that will improve the experience for users and developers.
YouTube launched its 'Leanback' interface in 2010, originally designed as an automatic playback client for when you didn't want to search and navigate through videos yourself. It later turned into a full-fledged web application for control with a remote, intended for use with smart TVs and other similar devices. Unfortunately, the Leanback web app is about to join the Google Graveyard.
Kodi, formerly known as XBMC, is an open-source media player that is available on a variety of platforms - including Android. If you use Kodi on your Android TV, you'll be happy to know that the next major release will support Leanback suggestions and voice search.
A fresh version of the Android Support Library is now available to developers. This may be one of the biggest updates in quite a while, as some of the changes demand a few significant internal changes. On the plus side, there aren't very many changes that should break existing code, and most of the new features will make it worth the trouble. Here's a quick introduction to some of the new changes.
Vector Drawables and Animated Vector Drawables
Full vector support was first introduced in Android 5.0 Lollipop, allowing developers to distribute apks with easily resizable vector drawings in place of multiple images at various sizes.
At one time in history, building an app that gave a consistent experience across all (or most) versions of Android was nearly impossible without dedicating a lot of time and effort. Thanks to the Android Support Library (a.k.a. AppCompat), it's easy to use some of the most important and commonplace user interface elements on versions of Android going as far back as Donut and Éclair. A fresh update for AppCompat was just released, bringing it to v22.1, and it introduces some really big changes. The ActionBarActivity has been deprecated for a new AppCompatActivity class, several new features from Lollipop were ported back to the Support V4, and some big improvements were made for Leanback, Palette, RecyclerView, and Renderscript.