It might be difficult to foresee a future of Android TV without apps and especially as that is largely the basis of the platform, but if recent comments made by Android TV's own Sascha Prueter are anything to go by, that might be exactly where Android TV is heading in the future. First things first, this is not happening anytime soon and the apps installed on your Android TV device are safe. However, Prueter was noted speaking during an International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) panel recently and during the conversation apps came up. On the topic, Prueter was specifically noted commented that "apps are not the ideal way to transport content". After digesting the information, Prueter does seem to have a point.
The logic behind the sentiment being made by Prueter is that apps are too standalone. Of course, in most respects this is actually their selling point – if you only want content from one provider, service, cable company, etc – then you only download their app. However, this does result in a flip flopping nature for Android TV users. Consumers literally have to continuously app-swap and this is where Prueter sees the benefit of a less-dependent app future and not just for the user, but also for the companies who develop these apps. It is not so much the removal of apps, but more so the removal of the need for users to have to search through apps to find the content. As Prueter states, apps "create a silo and once you leave that silo to watch other content, you are in another silo."
So you can clearly see the argument being put forward here. Swapping from app to app continuously is not the ideal from the perspective of the Android TV head. If only there was a more intuitive way for content to be brought to your attention? Content which just magically appears in front of you and happens to be exactly what you were looking for? No more heading to Netflix to look for a movie as that movie now comes to you – sounds good? That is where Prueter feels machine learning could provide the answer. As most people in the tech industry have become acutely aware, machine learning is now big business. This is a process where information is fed into algorithms with a view to having that data understood, patterns formed and predictions of behavior, likes, interests, and so on, being decided. In this particular instance, a 'content assistant' would be the answer. One which looks to learn the Android TV viewer's habits and adapts content to those habits. For the record, we are not talking about the recommendations feed that is already plastered all over the leanback launcher home-screen, but something much more deeper and intuitive. Something not based on your recent activity, but something which actively looks to predict your future activity. In short, Android TV could help power TVs to know you. So it will be less of a case of 'John, watched this and therefore he might like this' and more along the lines of 'I know John and he will like this'.
While this does obviously sound much more like something you would see in a Sci-Fi show, this is not unfamiliar ground with Google. This is a company who has placed a great deal of time, effort and money into advancing machine learning and incorporating machine learning principles into their own services already. Not to mention a 'content assistant' is something that does eerily sound like it could be an Android TV version of Google Assistant'.