Late last week Google announced it was phasing out legacy recommendations on Android TV. The confirmation came through the Android Developers Blog as the announcement is primarily designed to alert Android TV app developers of the change, with a view to them making any necessary changes to their apps prior to the fulfillment of the phasing out process which is due to take place during 2018. For clarification, this only affects devices running Android 8.0 (Oreo).
This essentially means the traditional ‘recommendations row’ will no longer appear on the Android TV (leanback) Launcher interface. This has been a staple since the beginning of Android TV and therefore is a fairly substantial removal. Although its removal is not quite a full removal as the announcement also details generic recommendations from Android TV apps will still appear. The difference being the row where they are housed will be relocated from the top of the launcher to the bottom with the row adopting a ‘channel’ form now, instead of a dedicated recommendations section.
In fact, ‘channels’ is one of the reasons as to why this change is now scheduled to take place. As when Google first announced the Oreo update for Android TV it did also introduce the concept of Android TV channels. These allow Android TV app developers the ability to create a dedicated channel on the homepage which in turn highlights a number of recommended shows/clips from that app. Thereby, when a device is running Oreo each app is now capable of having a much greater degree of recommended content visible on the leanback launched compared to before. Making the actual recommendations row somewhat surplus to requirements now. Although, for apps that have yet to make the switch to the new channel format the leanback launcher will still show recommendations in the new channel section at the bottom. So while still visible, they will require more scrolling than before. As older versions of Android TV - Android 7.0 (Nougat) and lower - do not make use of the new channel-based design, this change is not relevant with the standard recommendations row remaining in effect. Below is an example image provided by Google of how the new (lower down) “recommended from your apps” channel will look on Android Oreo going forward.