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article imageGoogle introduces the new Android TV home screen

By James Walker     May 25, 2017 in Technology
Google has detailed Android TV's new more intuitive home screen that's designed to let you jump straight into content. The revised interface also comes with Google Assistant support to let you control media playback using only your voice.
The new home screen was announced at Google's I/O developers conference last week. Today, Google published a new blog post that takes a deeper look at the home screen and the features within it. As Android TV begins to rapidly increase in popularity – Google claimed one million new devices were activated in the past two months – the company has designed the update to make the platform easier to use.
The interface now goes back to basics by emphasising a traditional TV guide layout that should be instantly familiar. It's meant to be intuitive to people who are just getting started with their first smart TV, organising video content into separate channels and programs in a logical grid format.
Channel tiles are created by Android TV apps. They can create multiple channels which show up as different rows on the home screen. Selecting a tile will show the latest programs that the app has added to it. You can customise the channels that are displayed and change their order, letting you put your favourite providers, genres and shows at the top of your home screen. Focusing on a program will show a live video preview of it to help you choose what to watch.
The home screen's Google Assistant integration is meant to let you find content even quicker. You can create powerful rich search queries using your voice, letting you uncover content from multiple apps and publishers when the remote is the other side of the room. Assistant can assess the context of the situation to determine the most relevant matches and put them at the top of search results.
Assistant on Android TV will also carry over the core features that it possesses on mobile devices. If you need to check the news or get a sports score, you can ask your TV without reaching for your phone. Google sees Assistant as reaffirming your TV's role as the centre of your room. You can use it to control your smart lights, interact with connected devices and change the playing content.
As the smart TV war begins to heat up, Google's refresh of Android TV's centrepiece will help to continue the platform's early success. Although smart TVs aren't yet ubiquitous, the increasing number of manufacturers adding platforms like Android TV to their products should continue the current trend towards rapidly rising sales.
"Android TV brings rich app experiences and entertainment to the biggest screen in your house, and with Android O, we’re making it even easier for users to access content from their favorite apps," said Google. "We’ve built a new, content-centric home screen experience for Android TV, and we're bringing the Google Assistant to the platform as well. These features put content that users want to access a few clicks, or spoken words, away."
Google hasn't yet stated if all current Android TV devices will receive the home screen update. The company has confirmed that Nexus Player products will get an over-the-air update later in the year. It's currently working with developers and manufacturers to update their products ready for the new interface.
Google Assistant on Android TV will initially debut in the U.S. later in the year. It will be compatible with Android smartphones running 6.0 Marshmallow, 7.0 Nougat and "O," the next-generation version to launch this summer. There's no indication yet whether compatibility will be added for iOS devices.
More about Google, Android, android tv, Television