Android TV boxes have a lot of potential, but thanks to the mishandling by device manufacturers they may soon be outclassed by competitors. However, Google isn’t giving up just yet. In a panel consisting of leading experts from Google and Think Analytics hosted by Accedo at Broadcast Asia, we got to have a closer look at trends and recent developments affecting Android TV as a platform.
Android TV going into 2019
Reduced costs and time to market
Android TV has matured in a lot of ways over the years, and as a platform, it beats out traditional set-top boxes with the ability to be a whole lot more personal. It can integrate with many different services, and the addition of features such as voice search allows for greater opportunities down the line. As it stands, the price for an OEM to launch an Android TV box is down 60% over what it used to be a little over a year ago thanks to work done by Google to help keep costs down. These optimizations have helped bring down costs, the “time to market” for OEMs is also drastically reduced which makes launching an Android TV set-top box a lot more compelling. Receiving certification can take only 4-6 weeks to complete, and Cast integration is a lot quicker now too. Google is also working to try to find new revenue streams for device manufacturers who wish to enter the market.
Interestingly, it is also mentioned that one of the first manufacturers to take up Android TV has managed to use data analytics to offer users channels that they may want. It is apparently very successful at the moment and has drastically increased revenue from the platform for the unnamed company.
Upcoming platform features
“Voice is not just for media discovery and control,” is a great way to start this section. The Google Assistant is its own platform, it’s not just a voice control means to an end. It’s an open platform which developers can use to add voice functionality to any Android-based application. It’s not just about ordering taxis and food delivery, there are a lot more practical uses as well. A lot more Android TV devices are going to be coming out with a far-field microphone in the near future, which will allow you to call up the Google Assistant without even needing a remote anymore. It will be equivalent to a Google Home.
And that’s not all. The Google Assistant can actually be used for OEMs as well to help reduce the amount of time spent giving support. What if you could offload a huge amount of that to the Assistant? Technical questions and such can all be handled immediately – without needing to deal with wait times for a call center. Over-voice commerce and integration with your phone are also mentioned, which again will simply aim to make troubleshooting and support easier for the end-user.
In terms of other features, there will be a lot more languages coming to Google Assistant in the Fall. USB video camera integration is also being worked on as a standard feature of Android Pie.
Project Treble and Android TV
First and foremost, the cutoff date for new devices launching with Android Oreo will be December 15th. That means that any set-top boxes launching after that must launch with Android Pie. That not only ensures that users will get the latest and greatest features Android has to offer, but that they will all have Treble compliant devices. Treble has made development a whole lot easier for engineers working on these TV boxes, and as such the time for devices to update should be a whole lot faster.
Android TV going forward
It’s clear that the platform has matured a lot and a huge amount of changes are already on their way. While at first it may have seemed that Google was neglecting Android TV, there are new features and improvements being worked on every day. Interestingly, Google appears to be focusing a whole lot more on the enterprise capabilities of the platform – not just the personal, daily use of a normal customer. We’ll be keeping an eye out for these (and more) upcoming changes.