An interesting interview with some of the Android TV team popped up online this week. The interview looked to address some of the more common issues with Android TV, why they have not been rectified and what can be expected from the platform going forward. Now, straight off the bat, there was nothing highly revealing here with no nuggets or pure Andorid TV gold or solid confirmations coming through. However, one particular aspect which came through towards the end of the interview, did provide some food for thought.
Android TV’s Head of Program Management, Sascha Prueter, revealed that they are working on a more interactive approach to Android TV in the future. Again, nothing too revealing was given away, however, Prueter did make a point of name-dropping both Google projects, Brillo and Weave. These are both highly IoT based projects at Google and ones which look to offer consumers a more connected home experience. This seems to be an element that the Android TV team think could benefit the platform. According to Prueter, “We are working with these teams to see where they are going and where we can actually collaborate. And if you own the underlying platform and APIs, you can build out experiences that are very, very advanced and very hard to replicate“. To briefly explain the two, Brillo is the underlying operating system which will be in use on many lightweight Internet of things (IoT) devices. As many of these products (door lock for example) are very lightweight in nature and would not require a full operating system to function (lock or unlock for example) Google designed Brillo to be an operating system purpose built for these less-demanding OS items. In contrast, Weave is best thought of as the system which will be used to connect all devices. Weave will work with all Brillo and non-Brillo devices and essentially, provide the language so all of these devices can understand each other.
This would be an interesting angle for Android TV to take. It is not secret that Google does like too harmonize their services and the more you think about it, the more an integration between your TV and the rest of your connected home products does seem to make sense. This presumably would mean that we are looking at new app integration where you could control your various connected home appliances, turn on or off light switches and so on, all from your Android TV device. Of course, all of these will most likely be capable from your smartphone anyway, but the notion that you could use TV does add an interesting element for those invested in Android TV. Most importantly, the sentiment does at the very least seem to confirm that Android TV is not something that the team are becoming concerned about, indifferent towards or losing interest with. In fact, if they are already looking to bring a greater level of integration with other home products, then Android TV is likely to be something the team see as possibly an integral part and maybe even driving force behind the home connected experience. Of course, it is worth pointing out that when Google first announced Weave, it was initially announced to be an aspect which will be open sourced. As such and if Android TV comes with strong enough compatibility, it is likely that there will be some very interesting third party customization coming through. With us now in November and 2016 closing in, it is probably time to start thinking about Google’s next I/O event which will be held by the middle of the year. Based on the recent comments, it does seem extremely likely that we could be hearing one or two interesting Android TV announcements at I/O 16.
The rest of the interview focuses mainly on why aspects like Netflix, Google Play Music, Live Channels and the recommendations are not as utilized as they could be. This is true. Recommendations currently do not seem to be highly personalized and Netflix seems to be largely absent from the recommendation bar. While the Play Music experience is greatly reduced compared to the one you have on your smartphone. On these points, the team did make it clear that these are ‘work in progress’ points and hopefully will be improved in a future update. Those interested can read the full review by clicking here.