After changing the Google TV app last year, which added features like movie and TV recommendations, critic scores and more, the company announced today at the Google I/O Developer Conference that, later this year, users will be able to stream TV shows and movies directly from their phone. Android or tablet to TV. In addition, the company introduced updated metrics related to the growing footprint of the Android operating system and introduced new tools for Android developers.
Google has been overhauling the connected TV experience and its companion app since 2020, when it first introduced the new Google TV interface to Chromecast streaming devices. He also applied the Google TV name to the app, which was previously known as the Google Play Movies & TV app. Earlier this year, Google also removed the Movies & TV section of the Play Store, stating that the Google TV app would be the central place to buy, rent, and watch movies and TV shows on mobile devices.
The company did not provide additional details about its plans to add casting support to the app, saying that it will be close to launch. But in an image provided by Google, it showed that at least one of the supported apps is NBCU’s Peacock.
As part of its announcements, the company also made some updates to the Android TV ecosystem, noting that there are 110 million monthly active devices on Android TV OS, including Google TV. That’s up from the 80 million monthly active devices Google announced at last year’s Google I/O event.
She also said that Android TV OS now offers more than 10,000 apps.
Of course, the Android TV operating system isn’t a direct equivalent to something like Roku or Amazon Fire TV, as it’s not only used on the company’s first hardware, like Chromecast. Instead, Google’s strategy is to license its platform to partners, including TV OEMs and pay-TV operators around the world. Currently, there are more than 300 partners using the platform, including 7 out of the 10 largest TV manufacturers, Google said.
But Google’s 110 million active devices cannot directly compare to the common metrics between rivals Roku and Amazon.
Android TV numbers are actually calculated by counting the number of actively used devices in a month – which means a user with multiple devices can count these devices separately, but a household with multiple people watching on a device will be counted one at a time.
Roku and Amazon define monthly active users as “accounts” that were active during the month. This means that even if this account is streaming on several different devices during the time period, it will only be counted once. If Roku or Amazon has to account for active devices as Google does, their numbers will be higher.
In December 2020, Amazon said Fire TV had passed 50 million monthly active users – a number that’s still referenced today on Amazon’s advertising website. In January, Amazon also indicated that it had sold more than 150 million Fire TV devices to bring its metrics more in line with Google’s hardware claims. Meanwhile, Roku, during its Q1 2022 earnings, said it ended 2021 with 60.1 million active accounts. Active devices are not counted.
Google also highlighted several developer features and tools on Android 13 related to its Android TV efforts. Google said the tools focus on performance, quality, accessibility, and multitasking, and include:
- Audio manager: This allows applications to accurately anticipate audio tracks and understand the available playback mode.
- media session: Integration with the app allows Android TV to react to HDMI status changes to save power and pause signal content.
- InputDevice API: Additional support for different keyboard layouts. (For game developers, support for different physical keyboard layouts, such as QWERTZ and AZERTY keyboards, has been added.)
- System-wide access preference: Allow users to enable audio descriptions across apps.
- Picture in Picture (PIP) API: PiP on TV supports Extended Mode for viewing videos from a conference call and Docking Mode to avoid overlaying content on other apps.
- Keep-clear API: Overlay prevents important content from being hidden in full screen apps.
The picture-in-picture API is particularly interesting as it can offer more shared viewing functionality across the Android TV ecosystem, following Apple’s introduction of SharePlay, which allows shared viewing via FaceTime across platforms, including Apple TV.