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Android TV: Everything You Need To Know!

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Google's Android operating system, the same that you know & love on your mobile, is now set to be the way of the future for smart TV's. 

What's it all about?

Perhaps the biggest advantage of Google's platform is that ultimately, it is likely to have the most apps available, and most quickly. Given that Android TV runs on the same code as Android on our phones, converting apps to run on Android TV should be straightforward for developers compare to rival platforms, as the learning curve won't be terribly steep. One other advantage of the platform is that it is plugged into everything else Google knows about you. This means that recommendations should be smarter: don't be surprised if after Googling on the bus to find out what Jeff Goldblum is up to, you suddenly start seeing recommendations on your TV for Independence Day and Jurassic Park. The other cool thing about Android TV is that every device (whether a smart TV or set-top-box) comes with a built in Chromecast. This means if you're browsing on another phone or tablet and see some video content you want to share with the room, in the touch of a button you can fling it up to the TV.

What are the new features?

In the future, it is likely that we'll see even more devices support Android TV - only adding to its appeal for developers. And it is likely that Google will keep the platform regularly updated so that it keeps pace with mobile Android releases too. The most recent version of Android, version 6.0 or Marshmallow has built in some features specifically for Android TV. For example, as with the mobile version, SD cards can be converted to use encrypted storage to keep your data secure (no one need ever know that you can't get enough of that show you won't admit to loving), and there are also new controls to adjust the resolution and dynamic range of the screen when using a 4K TV. The interface has also been refreshed, better optimising the Play Store for use on a TV screen, and new background images have been added too. If you have a phone also running Android Marshmallow, you'll also have the option of using your phone to setup your TV - which might make keyboard input and the like easier. Simply select "Setup a nearby device" from the Google Settings app on your phone.

What's coming?

The first TVs supporting Android TV arrived in 2015, though it really looks set to take off this year, as Arcelik, Vestel, RCA, Hisense, TCL and Bang & Olufsen are all working on TVs and devices running Android TV. These will all join Sony, Philips and Sharp in supporting the OS.

Should I wait to buy it?

A Smart TV running Android TV looks like it could be the safest bet for the future. It is also possible that - if Google's mobile success is any barometer - Android TV will become the largest Smart TV platform, as the technology isn't owned by any one TV maker (Samsung and LG would never license Tizen or WebOS to each other, for example). Given that Google is providing a common platform that can be plugged into a TV made by any manufacturer, it can achieve the greatest reach. The upshot of this is that this means that in time, Android TV will probably have all of the apps you need (eg.Netflix). And as one of the larger platforms, apps and services should be kept up-to-date for many years to come.