Android TV: What’s New In Android O Developer Preview 3

June 9, 2017 - Written By John Anon

This week saw the third developer preview of Android O become available for the usual Nexus and Pixel devices. Which of course, includes the Nexus Player. Affording Nexus Player owners the option to test run the absolute latest version of Android. This release is a little more important than the previous ones as it does come with final APIs. Which does mean (at least at the developer level), things are starting to finalize ahead of the general release of Android O. This also means that now is a fairly good time to consider giving Android O a try. Especially for those who have been put off trying this version due to its very early status and likelihood of bugs and issues.

If you own the Nexus Player and have yet to install Android O manually, then there are two main ways to go back it. The first is to flash the files over to the Nexus Player and you can find out how to do that by clicking here. Alternatively, you can simply sign up to be part of the Android Beta Program. This is by far the easiest method to get up and running with Android O as it not only sets the Nexus Player up to receive the update OTA, but also all future updates as OTAs as well. You can sign up to the Android O Beta Program by heading through the link below using the account associated with the Nexus Player. After which, it is just a matter of clicking on the Nexus Player and enrolling it.

Join Android O Beta Program

As for the third developer preview, compared to the last developer preview, the Android TV-related changes are fairly minimal. Which is understandable as developer preview 2 brought with it an entirely new interface which places its focus on ‘channels’ instead of apps. With the limited time we have had with this release so far, the changes this time around seem to be building on the new interface and enriching the experience. One of the most notable aspects so far is the use of App Shortcuts. Of course, App Shortcuts were present in the previous developer preview, but the difference now is that when you long press on an app icon, you are presented with a ‘favorite’ option. This allows you to nominate the app as one you use often and once favored, the app then appears in the first ‘Apps’ row on the new leanback launcher screen.

By the same token, you can also now long press on any of the apps listed in that first row and ‘Unfavorite’ them – leading to their removal from the app row.

In addition, the main apps page (which is activated by clicking on the App’s icon on the main page), now includes the option to add apps via the Google Play Store. Previously, this page simply listed the Play Store as an app on this page. Now however, a new + box appears at the end of the apps list which allows you to head through to the Play Store and add more apps to this list.

As you hover over the + sign, it changes to reveal the Google Play Store.

The same now also applies to the games row, although the + link now takes you through to Play Games, instead of the Play Store.

Another interesting change is that Hulu now appears as a “Customize Channels” option and in turn, appears as a dedicated channel on the leanback launcher. This was not the case in the last developer preview and is worth noting as we were not signed into the Hulu app. Even though the app was not signed in, the channel still provides a visible selection of Hulu content. So it does seem that regardless of whether you are a subscriber to an app service or not, if the app is installed and supports the channel view, you will see all of the content that you are missing out on, by not being a subscriber.

Previously, once a viewer scrolled down the page the mic icon would remain in place. Now it has been replaced with the more Google-colored mic icon, along with the “Search movies, TV and more” phrase.

Last but not least, heading through the settings and down to the device information tab will now list the current version as Android 8.0.0.

Just for reference, the video below is of the second developer preview. So you can visibly see some of the changes between the images above (DP3) and how it looked previously on DP2.