OnePlus TV with Android Authority logo

  • Google has announced a number of improvements heading to Android TV.
  • These enhancements address gaming latency, text input, and purchasing for users.
  • Developers can look forward to a refreshed Android TV emulator and Instant Apps support.

Android 11 for smartphones may be just beyond the horizon but that doesn’t mean Android TV users won’t be seeing some update love in the near future. The list of enhancements hitting the big-screen platform is now detailed in a new Google Developers blog post.

Android TV has grown massively in the past year with 80% more monthly active users when compared to 2019, according to Google. As 2020 has seen the majority of the world stuck indoors, it makes perfect sense for Google to accelerate its push of quality-of-life improvements and new tools for developers in future Android TV builds.

Incoming features to Android TV for users

One forthcoming addition is a feature we’ve seen on Android smartphones for quite some time. For users who prefer to frequently swap between new apps, Google Play Instant on TV will let users try apps without installing them. See an app that piques your interest? The feature will let you explore the app as if it’s installed on your device.

Android TV PIN Entry

Credit: Google

The acquisition of apps and content will also be simplified for users. PIN code purchases are coming to Android TV allowing users to input a four-digit number instead of typing out a full password when buying content on the big screen.

Typing longer passwords can be particularly cumbersome on remote controls, but typing as a whole on the platform will be streamlined. Gboard TV will receive additional layouts, including predictive text and speech-to-text modes, to make typing with remote controls a little easier. Google demonstrates (see below) that speech-to-text will be accessible to input more complicated strings, like the name of your device during setup.

Gboard TV

Credit: Google

Gamers will receive performance enhancements too. Support for auto low latency modes is coming to Android TV, switching off post-processing for smoother, less choppy gameplay. If the device is connected to a supported display, the running window can request the use of low latency mode. This tweak should also benefit video conferencing apps and services, as well as devices lacking processing grunt.

Instant Apps, new Emulator for developers

Google Play Instant Apps Android TV

Credit: Google

Finally, developers gain a few new toys too. While Google believes Instant Apps will help developers acquire more users, the company is also reworking the Android TV emulator which now supports Google Play subscription testing.

Improvements are also heading to the leanback library. Mobile and TV apps will share more code too, making it easier for developers to port wares across platforms. A number of UI tweaks, including to the top-tab navigation system, are also incoming.

It’s not yet clear when these tweaks will filter through to users, but developers can access their new toys through the Android 11 Developer Preview.

Next: Best Android TV devices — what are your options?

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