What’s new in Android TV and Google TV | Google IO Update 2021
Hi, everyone. I’m Shalini, VP and GM of TV platforms at Google. Thank you for tuning in to our session that covers Android TV OS, our underlying operating system for TV. In the past year, we’ve all had to change our routines. With more time spent at home, the largest screen in our homes also became the most important. In 2020, usage of smart TVs increased by 157%, as we tuned into the news, binge watched series like The Queen’s Gambit, or watched the world premiere of blockbusters like Mulan. And not only has TV usage increased, but the breadth of content that is being accessed is larger than ever. Today, the average US household subscribes to four streaming services. With both growing demand and an immense amount of content choice, we’re truly in the golden age of entertainment. On Android TV OS, we have partnered with over 250 TV manufacturers and cable operators to meet this demand. And thanks to content providers and developers like you, there are now more than 8000 apps available for Android TV OS. Together, we’re transforming living rooms all around the world into movie theaters, classrooms, personal gyms, and more. Today, we are excited to announce a new milestone. 80 million monthly active devices powered by Android TV OS. In the US, we’re seeing exciting growth of over 80% year-over-year. This is not possible without your partnership. So a heartfelt thank you to all of you. Android TV OS is the operating system that powers a number of experiences. Last fall, we introduced a brand new experience called Google TV. Google TV was inspired by feedback that we heard time and time again from our users. In this golden age of entertainment, there is so much good content to choose from, it can actually become difficult to decide what to watch next. That’s where Google TV comes in. Google TV brings together content from across your apps, and organizes it all based on what you like to watch and what interests you, helping you discover more content that you will love. We’re excited by the overwhelmingly positive reception for Google TV. We’re looking forward to working with all of you to bring even more engaging, and rich experiences and content to TV. I’ll now hand it over to our director of product, Ben Serridge, to demonstrate how one developer has created a unique experience on Android TV, along with several new product announcements and developer tools. Thank you Shalini. This is such an exciting time for Android TV OS. With so much momentum, it’s great to see partners and developers pushing the envelope to create new and innovative experiences on the platform. One shining example is the Red Bull TV app. Red Bull launched the world’s first synced AR experience for on-demand video streaming exclusively on Android TV OS. Synced with The Last Ascent, a documentary that follows Will Gadd’s eye opening journey up Mount Kilimanjaro, this experience gives viewers an immersive and engaging way to participate in the journey through interactive 3D content, additional videos and more. Our goal is to enable you to be innovative, creative, and effective by launching helpful products and tools that make developing for Android TV easier, whether you’re developing completely new capabilities like Red Bull TV, or integrating into our existing features. A great example of a highly effective feature is the WatchNext API. With the launch of Google TV, we continued to leverage the WatchNext API through the Continue Watching row, allowing users to quickly jump back into content. The WatchNext API is utilized by well over 100 major partners today, including many of our top global media partners who are seeing its effectiveness first-hand. As you know, it’s a common challenge to get users to continue to engage with content that they previously started. The WatchNext API gets this content featured front and center for the user, helping to reduce churn and increase engagement. In fact, in recent research, we saw that the WatchNext API could increase re-engagement by upwards of 30% in certain cases. Two new features that will help you build more engaging user experiences for your apps are Cast Connect Stream Transfer and Stream Expansion. As you know, with Cast Connect, users can cast directly to the Android TV native app, which they can then navigate using the Android TV remote, improving the user experience compared to standard cast. However, we also know that users like to watch content across many screens. Whether it’s multiple TVs spread across the home in different rooms, or an array of tablets, smart displays and mobile devices, users want the ability to transfer the content that they’re casting from one device to another. With Cast Connect Stream Transfer users can do just that. Once a Cast Connect session is started, the user can switch the casted content to another device simply by using their voice. And with Cast Connect Stream Expansion, users can add speakers to what is playing on the current stream. Let’s take a look at a demo. Let’s start with the cast feature that we all know and love. You start watching something on your phone and then cast it to your TV. However, what if you need to move to another room? Now, with Stream Transfer, you can simply press the Google Assistant button and say, “Move this to the bedroom display,” and what you’re watching will pop up on your cast connected device in the other room just like that. When users initiate Stream Transfer on the source device, Cast SDK has a smart default implementation to automatically generate a media load request from your media session, so no code change is required. But you can always customize the load request in onStoreSession by setting CustomData. On the destination device, you should add a Resume_Session intent in your Android manifest to indicate that your app supports stream transfer. Then you should implement onResumeSession to extract the load request, start playback with your player, update MediaManager, and broadcastMediaStatus. In addition to these new capabilities, we’re also happy to announce several improved testing tools to help you test and validate your apps. First up, the emulator. Last year, we announced our first emulator with the Play Store. We are excited to announce the addition of two new emulators for Android 11, one with the traditional Android TV UI and one with the Google TV UI. Now you can start testing your app on Google TV without requiring any new hardware. In addition, we have introduced a new emulator remote control based on the Android TV reference remote spec. For example, this remote can help you test how your app interacts with Google Assistant much more efficiently. Let’s take a look at a demo. Here’s the emulator that you’re very familiar with for Android TV. In the past, you had to rely on this control bar to access commands such as back, overview, and home. Now, with the full remote control that closely follows our reference remote, you can intuitively interact with all the key remote buttons. You can even access Google Assistant directly from this interface and see the response on screen. For instance, let’s check on the weather in Hawaii. As you can see, the response is accurate to what you would see in the actual product experience. Next, we are happy to announce Firebase Test Lab for Android TV OS. Firebase Test Lab is a leading service with millions of weekly tests being run by developers to evaluate their app performance on different devices. Firebase Test Lab now includes Android TV devices that allow you to test your apps on a scalable cloud solution without requiring the setup of your own physical test lab. Virtual devices use the Android TV emulator, but let you run tests at scale with cloud-based virtual machines. For example, you could play thousands of episodes on your app in a single day by testing with Firebase Test Lab. Physical devices running Android TV OS will be available soon in addition to our virtual devices, giving you even more options and flexibility in your testing. Okay, so let’s see how it looks like in real life. Here we have a terminal screen open, and as you can see, we’re running Firebase Test Lab through G-Cloud. We’re running a test called Robo that automatically traverses the UI, without requiring us to record a script. As you can see, the test is deploying and then getting executed. It’s worth mentioning that in addition to the pass/fail result, we also provide a summary video. The summary video is made up of screenshots taken at regular intervals and stitched together to give you visibility into what Firebase Test Lab experienced during the test. Firebase Test Lab virtual devices are available in beta and we encourage you to try them out and provide us with feedback. Lastly, Android 12 Beta 1 on ADT-3 is launching today. We encourage you to try it and provide us with feedback. Aligning the Android TV release with the overall Android mobile release was part of a concerted effort to leverage the power of the Android ecosystem and allow for increased efficiency and innovation on TV. We’re happy with the results of this undertaking, and we hope that this will be a significant advantage for the developer community. The future of TV is bright, and Android TV OS will continue to push to be at the forefront of what TV can offer. Thank you for continued support of the platform. Click on over to the Android TV sandbox to see a demo of our reference app, learn more about how to get your app ready for Google TV, and see another example of app innovation on Android TV. We’re looking forward to seeing what you can build.