I have to admit, Android TV is still a preserve of the few. At least in Kenya. However, with media streaming devices like the Safaricom Digital TV and Internet Box, there’s room for a change since the only alternative to set top boxes is getting a television set that runs Android TV. And those don’t come cheap.
For those that have Android TV either through an Android box like Safaricom’s or an Android-powered TV like Sony’s, you can stream music in your house, office or wherever your Android TV setup is based through Deezer, the French music streaming service. That has been the possible for a while now since the app landed on the platform. However, its feature-set has been limited with many of the features that users of the service on other platforms, like mobile, have become accustomed to, missing.
The new features making their way to the app include Flow, Deezer’s own music-recognition service a la Shazam, the ability to play full tracks for non-paying subscribers (unfortunately, this was not possible before this update, imagine!), the ability to search for tracks, artists, albums, playlists, channels etc, support for lyrics as well as the ability for those using shared (family) accounts to also log in and enjoy their music.
This particular news is important because of two things. First, there’s the obvious bit where Android TV devices are available in the local market. Secondly, Deezer happens to be one of the music streaming services from the West that Kenyans can enjoy without having to resort to workarounds like using virtual private network (VPN) apps. The other service is Apple Music which even lets Kenyan college-going students pay less for a subscription. So, for all intents and purposes, this is a match…
Just head over to the Google Play Store app on your Android TV device and search for “Deezer Music for Android TV“.
This is important for me in particular because one of the things I did after completing my Android TV + Google Assistant-powered smart speaker linkup was ask Google Assistant to play music from Spotify on the TV then I was gutted when it couldn’t do so. Of course, those of you who’ve been reading my pieces here and follow me on social media know that I have a wonderful relationship and do swear by Spotify. However, Spotify is, well, Spotify. A service that is not available in Kenya and I have to use a VPN app to circumvent that restriction. That works well on the phones I use and with the smart speaker since it’s usually linked to them but not so well on the TV.
On TV, I have had to find a workaround. Long before I got the Safaricom Digital TV and Internet Box that, theoretically (because I have been too lazy to try this out), allows me to do things like sideload Spotify then use a VPN app like Tunnel Bear to get around Spotify’s geo-restrictions, I had come up with an easier workaround. I created a United States PlayStation Network (PSN) account which then allowed me to download and sign in to Spotify on my PlayStation 4.
But, the PS4 is not an Android device and as such does not properly connect with the rest of my little setup thus depriving me the joy of having to control the volume using my voice (thankfully, I can use the other controls like pause, play, forward etc just fine because of the way Spotify syncs devices). Deezer does not present all those complexities. Just sign in (or sign up if you’ve never tried out the service) and get down to enjoying your favourite tunes.
Unfortunately some of the new features of the updated Deezer app on Android TV, like radio and podcasts, are not available to Kenyan users as they are limited to a select few markets.