A week ago I reported how a handful of developers managed to port Android TV to the Raspberry Pi. Although the port had some flaws, it was a great beginning and definitely the cheapest Android TV. The Raspberry Pi is a nifty gadget and that open source project will likely continue to get support.
One of those developers, Geek Till it Hertz, just published a similar project. Now, Android TV has an early build running on a laptop or desktop PC.
This is based on Android-x86, an open source community project which brings the Android OS to the desktop, running on Intel’s x86 processors. He took the leanback apps which come with Android TV and adapted the OS so that these leanback apps would work.
There are a few quirks. For example, in apps you can see the navigation buttons at the bottom and a notification drawer at the top. Settings do not seem to work at all, instantly closing when launched.
At the same time, the performance is better than on the Raspberry Pi. YouTube plays videos without stuttering or much lag and overall the navigation seems much smoother. Oddly, Twitch does not seem to work. After the person in the video opens a stream, the screen remains dark except for the chat slowly filling up with dank memes.
Having Android TV on a laptop may seem like an odd choice. Yes, it’d be cool to carry around the equivalent on a small TV, but you’d also be removing a lot of your productivity benefits of a laptop. To counter this, the developer has included a stock launcher. You can just use a generic launcher and scroll through a normal app drawer. You can also open the mobile settings app to adjust things.
As previously stated, Android TV is just Android with a few custom apps. By having those installed, you can essentially switch between the TV and productivity interfaces. Apps like YouTube are designed to open in different layouts for the phone and TV, so you get a good experience based on the view type you’re using.
The project has been posted in the Android x86 community, and this first experimental build will likely continue to be developed. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can learn more at Geek Till it Hertz.