Android TV gets 4 new features

That Android TV, Google’s TV platform based on its popular mobile operating system, has all but been getting some tough love from its parent has never been in secret. We’ve gone for many months without hearing anything through official channels about the future of the platform.

That, however, has not stopped device makers from embracing the platform. One of those, Chinese company Xiaomi, recently announced a range of budget television sets for the Indian market.

While the hardware at the kind of prices it is going for on the populous subcontinent is certainly a headturner (the cheapest TV set starts at about Kshs 36,000), the software too is quite significant.

This is because due to the nature of the target market, there is need to back the several features smart TV platforms like Android TV offer with the same practical services and offerings that are available on mobile devices.

As such, Google is conveniently rolling out several new features to the Android TV platform that are meant to make it a darling of just about everyone, not just those with access to high-speed broadband in their houses.

These features are:

1. Data Saver

This one goes without saying. For those that are not covered by wired home internet, which is very many people, tethering from smartphones or using devices like wireless mobile routers (Mi-Fi) is common. By doing so, the last thing that one wants is to have their data plan exhausted within minutes of connecting. Google is promising users of increased watch times (up to 3 times) thanks to Android TV’s new data saving feature.

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2. Data Alert

As part of the data saving, users will receive alerts on their big screen so as to help them keep tabs on their data consumption. Just as it happens on mobile.

3. Hotspot guide

To help users set up their TVs using their mobile hotspots.

4. Cast

Android TV is build around allowing users to easily cast content from their Android smartphones and/or tablets to their Android-powered TVs. Google’s file manager application will now let users view media they download on their phones directly on their television screens.

The new features are rolling out to Android TV units from TCL, Xiaomi and others in India at the moment and over the next few weeks while the rest of us can expect them to hit our units in due course. The Cast functionality can be enabled at the moment through the beta version of Files by Google.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at]