Google is giving Android TV an update to make it look more like its new Google TV software, adding three new tabs to its home screen interface. Rolling out from Wednesday, the update will revamp the interface to feature tabs for Home, Discover and Apps.
Similar to the layout of Google TV, all three tabs will be located at the top of the interface, replacing Android TV's previous list-and-tile layout. The Home tab will remain the central location for accessing favorite apps and channels, while the company says that the Discover tab will display "personalized recommendations based on what you watch and what interests you." The Apps tab will display any applications you've installed.
Like Roku and Amazon's Fire TV, Google's Android TV and Google TV are the search giant's platforms for streaming apps and content on your television. Both of Google's platforms support a variety of apps including Netflix, Disney Plus and HBO Max, integrate closely with Google Assistant for search and have virtual stores for renting or buying movies and TV shows.
A Google spokesperson says that the update will head to "all retail device partners that use our standard Android TV home screen" and does not apply to those with Google TV devices such as the Chromecast with Google TV. Those in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany and France will get the new software first, with the company promising "more countries to follow in the coming weeks."
The company stopped short, however, of promising that existing Android TV products seeing today's update will get an eventual upgrade to Google TV, which has become the software focus for Google's future living room ambitions.
Among the improvements that Google TV offers are a "For You" tab that further streamlines the interface, including a "continue watching" section to quickly jump back into the movie or show you were viewing. There's also improved integration with live services such as YouTube TV and Sling TV.
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The underlying Android software version number is also higher on most Google TV devices. Google says Android TVs will not be getting an OS version upgrade as part of this update. Whereas the Chromecast with Google TV launched with Android 10, a number of Android TV devices still use earlier versions of Android.
At last month's CES, both TCL and Sony announced that they will ship new TVs in the US this year with Google TV instead of Android TV. Sony, which has long used Android TV as the platform of choice for its televisions, said it will use the Google TV software for all of its 2021 TVs.
"At this time, we are focused on bringing the Google TV experience to new retail devices like Sony and TCL," a Google spokesperson said. "Over time, all new retail devices on the Android TV OS will have the Google TV experience. Until then, we are bringing new features, like personalized recommendations in the Discover tab, to current Android TV devices to help people discover new shows and movies to watch."