Live Channels Updated, Supports USB Tuners and Adds DVR Capabilities

It’s finally here! After big announcements were made earlier in the year related to Live Channels, version 1.11 has finally been released in the Google Play Store (as well as on APK Mirror). DVR support now works on devices with Nougat and above, and you can now plug in a USB tuner to get channels over the air. Let’s take a quick dive into each of these.

We’ve just pushed update to Live Channels in Play Store today in order to help unblock developers who work on the Recording API we released in API level 24. Our sample implementation is based on the ATSC USB tuner input and you can test it by plugging one of the following USB tuner models into your Nexus Player running Android 7.0 or higher. Note this works only in North America.
– Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-955Q
– Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One
– AVerMedia AVerTV Volar Hybrid Q (H837)

As Nexus Player has insufficient storage for recording, you need to connect an external storage with a USB OTG hub and set it as “device storage”. (Don’t forget to move data.)
Jae Seo

DVR

Back in March, with the Android N developer preview, one of the new APIs that was introduced were the TV recording APIs. Essentially, the Live Channels app (or any TV app) could schedule recordings and then notify apps when their channel should start and stop recording. This turns your Android TV into a DVR.

While the APIs shipped in the 7.0 release of Android, Nougat, it wasn’t visible in the Live Channels app. A channel may have supported recording but had no way of exposing it to the user. Now users should be able to schedule recordings and play them back later through a DVR activity in the app.

USB Tuners

Another big announcement, made in May during Google I/O, was that there would be support for USB tuners. This would allow cordcutters to access live TV, and make recordings, without a cable subscription. It could be done over the air instead. The team seems to have tested it with three USB tuners and gotten it to work, although others may also work if you’d prefer.

Conclusion

Now that DVR support has been released for developers, will we see apps start to implement it? It’s definitely something that would be great for users, but perhaps not too interesting for developers. Right now many of them still don’t support time shifting, an API from Marshmallow. Users should notify developers about these features and try to encourage their use.

Luckily, USB tuner support should just work, so there won’t be any support needed there. Will you get a USB tuner? Let us know in the comments below.

After a month of Nougat being released, it’s good to see this app catch up to the new features. It should be noted that Apple made some announcements around their tvOS yesterday, and hopefully competition in the smart TV industry will allow companies to continue innovating and differentiating. Live Channels is a great app and I’d like to see it get more useful as it matures.

These two new features only appear to work on Nougat, which is only available currently on the Nexus Player. Hopefully Xiaomi and NVIDIA will be able to release their own updates shortly so that more users can take advantage of these features.

Live Channels can be downloaded for free on Google Play or through APK Mirror.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker)Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop.Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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  • NashGuy

    Just to clarify, if one were to plug in one of those USB tuners into an updated Nexus Player, it could tune into local OTA TV channels directly through the Live Channels app without the use of any underlying app, right? That’s different than if one uses a Silicon Dust network TV tuner with an Android TV device now, as that tuner relies on an app from Silicon Dust to tune in the channels and then passes the video streams and guide data off to the Live Channels app where they can also be viewed, right? Where is Live Channels getting the listings data for the channels coming from the USB tuners? Does it use embedded PSIP data or is Google providing guide data for free?

    My next question is about using DVR features with those TV channels that can be accessed from these newly supported USB tuners. Live Channels doesn’t have the capability itself to record that video, does it? Wouldn’t it require some kind of underlying DVR app coded to work with those USB tuners and with the Live Channels app? It’s my understanding that Live Channels only provides the front-end UI DVR controls for setting up, managing, playing and deleting recordings, but it must rely on another app (e.g. HD HomeRun DVR, Plex Media Server, etc.) to act as the DVR engine to record and store the video streams.

    Any insight you have to these questions is appreciated!

  • I would love to see support for IPTV… My internet provider provides a list with its own IPTV box but it really sucks, I want to use Android TV 🙁

  • Deeco

    Does it support DVB-S2 too?