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Android TV Gets Major Upgrade

Android TV owners are set to get a major upgrade to their TV’s after Google announced an expanded version at their Google I/O Developer Conference, a major beneficiary will be Big W customers with the mass retailer set to start selling Google Android powered TV’s shortly.
The update, is scheduled to be rolled out by September, Android TV devices such as the Philips and Sony TV’s will get a completely revamped user interface that puts a much bigger emphasis on content recommendations.

Google first introduced Android TV in 2014, and the layout of the platform had remained the same since.

Currently existing Android TV devices have a home screen that features one row of content recommendations from a variety of apps and services, and then a bunch of shortcuts to different apps.
Google has moved to split these recommendations so that services such as Netflix and YouTube get their own row, or channel, as Google calls it.

Within that channel, publishers can surface TV shows, movies and other content based on their own priorities, highlighting new content or redirecting users to things they have been watching.

“Often, these services know the user much better than Android TV does,” said Android TV Director Sascha Prueter in an interview with Variety.

Publishers can also opt to give users the choice to install multiple channels, they can also build separate recommendation rows for live and on-demand content.

Users can always remove a channel, or further customize the Android TV launch screen.

Prueter said that Google’s eventual goal with this channel model was to replace the traditional TV guide, and give users quicker access to the content they want.

To that effect, Google has introduced a quick launch row of apps for users who prefer the Netflix interface over their smart TV menus. Another row offers direct access to recently-watched shows, targeting binge watchers who are looking to quickly jump to the next episode after turning on the TV set.

Prueter said that the platform has been seeing growing momentum in recent months, thanks in part to several partnerships with pay TV operators. In fact, he said that most Android TV devices now have live TV input, meaning they’re smart TVs or pay TV boxes. “We are not just a OTT platform,” Prueter said.

Google hasn’t released any absolute numbers for Android TV, but Android Engineering VP Dave Burke said Wednesday that the platform now sees one million new device activations every two months.