Android TV Remote Teardown Hints at Virtual Gamepad, Auto-Sleep

In lieu of having a physical remote, Android TV owners can use the Android TV Remote app on their phone to control the TV and do voice searches. A few weeks ago the app received an update that was fairly benign. It had some minor performance improvements but otherwise didn’t seem different.

However, Cody Toombs of Android Police did a teardown of the app which hints at a lot of new features coming to the app soon.

Gamepad View

Right now the phone can switch between a DPAD and touchpad view. Each view offers a different way of controlling the TV, whether through button presses or swiping. In either case, the control is fairly limited in the number of controls. If you want to play a high caliber game, you may need to use a gamepad.

For those that don’t have one, they should soon be able to use a virtual one. New strings hint at a third screen that will show a joystick and virtual buttons. While you may not have the tactile feedback of a physical controller, it should be better than nothing.

<string name="screen_name_gamepad">GAMEPAD</string>
<string name="action_string_layout_gamepad">Gamepad</string>
<string name="gamepad_section">GAMEPAD</string>
<string name="content_desc_joystick">joystick</string>

New Sensors

The remote app also seems to be getting access to some new information.

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION"/>
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.sensor.accelerometer" android:required="true"/>

Location could be useful for some sort of guest mode using Nearby. Accelerometer access could be useful in an upcoming remote control API where the TV receives that data for racing games.

Auto-Sleep and Voice Volume Control

Two new strings suggest an upcoming feature will be the ability to put the TV to sleep so users don’t need a second remote for the TV’s power options. A second new feature seems to be the ability to change just the volume for voice responses without having to change the media volume overall.

<string name="tv_sleep_section">Set TV to sleep</string>
<string name="action_voice_sound_level">Voice Sound Level</string>

This teardown suggests a lot of new things will be happening with Android TV in the coming months, and it’ll be exciting to see what will be announced next.

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 ( 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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