Android TV: Get Ready For TV & Box Spying To Be The New Normal


Cord-cutting is not the only trending market change at the moment as spying seems to be just as popular. Yes, spying is a much older concept although the new-age version is more of a by clicking here I accept the terms and conditions sort of spying. One that is, and will be, argued is good for you, the consumer. And if you think the world of cord-cutting will be exempt from spying, think again. Not only will 'listening in' become more prevalent in platforms like Android TV, but in many ways, it is almost designed for platforms like Android TV. The reason being is simple – advertising. And as most will already agree TVs are one of the most effective means of distributing and consuming ads.

While some consumers are already suspicious of purchasing certain devices, from certain companies, in certain countries, due to a fear of a more government-backed espionage type of spying, the version many people are more likely to encounter is habit tracking which is marketed as a feature designed to assist in the improvment of the user experience. Of course, this is already happening on multiple levels and especially within Android TV, as not only are apps capable of tracking user actions (at the very least in relation to the app), but there is a good chance if you already own a Sony Android TV (or a smart TV from Samsung, LG, Vizio, Roku, or anyone else for that matter) the TV is probably by default opted in to "interest-based," "interactive marketing services," "personalized advertising," "ad tracking," or whatever other names and terms companies use to refer to their habit of monitoring your habits.

The difference is however, that generally speaking you can now deep dive into the settings and usually find the right setting to disable the feature and opt-out. Something which is less likely to be doable going forward due to what is clearly a paradigm shift within TV consumption. Once the industry reaches the tipping point where everyone consumes content through an app-based device, the need for marketers and advertisers to ensure devices are not only capable of monitoring activities, but actually are monitoring activities will grow. Furthermore, as the data that can be collected is even more granular (and therefore more useful for individual ad targeting) – for example before you might have seen an ad on a channel for a new mattress shop in your city compared to the future when you will likely see an ad for a specific mattress that happens to address the exact back issues you suffer from and coincidentally right within the price bracket associated with your income – the want and motivation from third-party advertisers will also grow. So it is a fair assumption to make that this will become more common practice as the industry evolves. More to the point, this is already becoming more commonplace with the next generation of Android TV devices (and even older generation devices that have been updated) seeing greater support for virtual assistants and/or compatibility with smart home ecosystems. Take the SHIELD for example, not only is this now Google Assistant-enabled, but also SmartThings supported, and will likely become even more ecosystem supported in the future. Newer boxes and sets will be where the impact of this is really felt though as these will start to arrive with these supports 'out of the box.'


The good news is (if you can call it good), it is not just a TV problem. As virtually all devices in the home are now becoming smarter and more capable of tracking user habits and/or collecting data. Therefore, while you could opt to stay clear of boxes that are more capable of tracking (and especially certain devices, from certain companies, in certain countries), the chances are good the same companies will already be collecting data from one of many of the other products you will inevitably have littered around the home in the future, if not already. So although it is not necessarily a comforting thought that TV consumers will likely have to adjust to this being a new normal with TV, like those mattress store ads consumers are already exposed to, it will be the new normal. The flip side is, however, if you really are in need of a specific mattress, to help with a specific back issue, and at a specific price, Android TV-enabled sets and boxes will likely be able to help soon enough.

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John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]

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