Last year, Gizmodo’s Sean Hollister declared Android TV an exciting, beautiful mess. “You should probably steer clear till Google gets its shit together,” he wrote. At I/O, Google’s telling us about an updated Android TV that may indicate that its shit is actually being gathered.
One of the biggest problems with Android TV was how it integrated with the Google Play store: Its selection of apps was tiny and overly-curated. According to Google, that’s changing. Today the system is getting a major aesthetic overhaul, which will allow you to browse any app in the Play store, not just the small selection of featured apps. Before you could only search for things you knew you wanted to see or play, or browse through a small number of categories—now, Google says you’ll be able to discover things on your own.
Another big criticism of the system? That it felt like “like it’s designed to sell movie and TV rentals,” as Hollister put it. Another new feature added today could go along way to making it feel more interesting: Android TV Channels, which let anyone create a custom channel within the ecology. There are a couple Google is launching today as examples, like Vevo, TED, and Bloomberg—but in theory, you’ll also be able to curate your own channel, which could be a powerful thing for independent producers.
If you’ve got the right Android TV box, you could also be watching live channels too: the Nvidia Shield Android TV will finally let you access that long-rumored Live Channels app if you plug in a HDHomeRun TV tuner. You can see a picture of it at the top of this post.
Android TV wasn’t finished when it launched last year. This second pass could go a long way towards making it feel complete.