There are a number of reasons why you might buy an Android TV device like the Nexus Player. Some of the benefits include the ability to have an android platform on your home TV, the ability to sync media like your music, games and movies and the ability to play android games on a much bigger screen. However, there are also a number of reasons as to what you might want to wait before picking up an Android TV device.
One of the biggest reasons that you might opt to wait is the infancy of the platform. We have already reported how the availability of compatible apps is limited, with only a small amount of apps being ported over to work on Android TV devices. Well, a prime example of one of the type of apps which is missing suitable compatibility is web browsers. Even Google's Chrome has not yet been optimised to work on Android TV. Of course, you can simply sideload a browser app like Chrome to your Nexus Player. However, the lack of compatibility means it will be limited in a number of respects. Not to mention, likely to be unstable and buggy resulting in stalls and force crashes. Well, this week saw a new app being released specifically for Android TV.
'Web Browser for Android TV' is exactly that, a web browser for Android TV. As its functionality is designed to work on the big screen, it won't be a surprise to learn that it does work better than the other side loaded alternatives. That said, it is still not the easiest app to navigate. Web Browser does allow for basic navigation of the internet and does employ the use of mobile and desktop websites. The app also supports video playback, as well as being able to store favorites and backtrack through your history.
The app also works reasonably well with the remote control, GamePad and the Remote Control App with a movable mouse cursor which is present on the screen.
However, after first downloading, the URL bar only seems to accept the Remote Control App as a means of input, as default. Therefore, when you try to navigate to the address bar with either the physical remote control or GamePad, you are prompted to "use phone keyboard to enter text" as default.
There is a couple of ways to circumvent this issue though. The first is to simply download the app. Once you do, the navigation is fine and all text can be inputted. What's more, is that a neat workaround (if you do not want to keep using your phone as the remote control) is to use the phone control to go to Google. Once there, bookmark the page. From then on, Google will appear on your homescreen and this can be clicked through using the physical remote control and GamePad. Once you make you way to Google from then on, the Google search bar will automatically activate the onscreen keyboard.
Alternatively, if you head up to the menu in the right-hand corner and click on "Settings", there is an option there to activate the "Soft keyboard" which will then allow direct interaction with the URL using the physical remote control and GamePad.
Otherwise, if you have been waiting for a better web browser than the sideloaded options then maybe you will want to give this one a try. Until Chrome becomes more naturally compatible with Android TV, this might be your best option. If you are interested in giving this third party option a try, then hit the link below.