2016 wow what a year, for better or for worse we haven’t had a year so unpredictable in quite a long time. In 2016 we saw a lot of change, the Android TV community is heading in the right direction depending on who you ask but I think we can all agree it’s better than it was this time last year.
At the the beginning of 2016 Androidtv.news was still young and Android TV wasn’t on the map for most and it was up in the air as to its future. 3 Devices and 1 dev kit had been released for the platform which isn’t much to work with but it’s something. Yes TV’s like Sony’s 4k TV’s had it so that’s more devices. Anyway lets look at each month and what it brought.
Showtime Anywhere got support for Android TV which was huge because video services were lacking and the big players had to come for the others to follow. Google Play Games dropped G+ sign in which was a good thing to see so that you weren’t bound to G+ anymore. Nick illustrated building one app across all form factors. Mediatek showed off its first TV Unit with Marshmallow showing it wanted to get involved. Pi users also found out they could run Android TV unofficially.
February kept pace and kept going with announcements like Twilight coming to Android TV to help us with blue light, CrunchyRoll adding support for Android TV was huge for anime fans. Live Channels simplified the UI for users to make it more user-friendly, Vulkan API Support arrived in Developer Preview on the NVIDIA SHIELD TV though not many games support it Dolphin Emulator did add it. Later towards the tail end of the month the SHIELD TV got its first taste of Marshmallow bringing tons of new features and fixes and in that same day Sony announced HDR 4k Android TVs.
March introduced us to a new player into the Google Cast space in the form of Google Cast support in Vizio TV’s. Android TV’s Remote app for Android & iOS got a revamp, the Android TV Play Store requirements changed and Android N which later became Nougat was release in Developer preview to the shock of almost everyone as this was the first time a major OS update was release before Google I/O and it changed a lot both under the hood and visually. Some of the TV specific changes that occurred were TV recording APIs, PiP also known as Picture in picture, Recent Tabs for quick app swapping and Multi-user support.
SoniCast Brought Google Cast to Hotels which was really cool to see, RCA Joined Android TV, Bloomberg went 24/7 on Live Channels, and GeForce Experience 3.1 for the SHIELD TV came out. The last 10 days of the month brought even more of an onslaught of news like Netflix HDR, Haystack TV adding Live Channels support, The Razer Turret finally went on sale for a pretty penny and Nick did a TV Design Case Study.
May was the month that Google I/O was hosted during and our own Nick Felker was in attendance. Leading up to that though Google bought Androidtv.com,Play Movies Gained Dolby Digital Plus, ESPN was released for Android TV, HDHomeRun added DVR to their app, and live channels gained more app branding. Once I/O rolled around we were in for a real treat. Spotify had done the unthinkable and actually had made an Android TV app that was debuted at I/O and released concurrently on the Play Store the same day. Xiaomi annouced the Mi Box which was a cheaper SHIELD TV for some who wanted 4k support or wanted a better Nexus Player. Google announced Google Home which would now share the home space with Android TV and actually work together through casting. Reviews and Ratings came to the Play Store and Family sharing was announced. After I/O more news came and it seemed Android TV was again alive shoving the doubt away. Comcast demoed their TV app on SHIELD TV, USB Tuner support for Live Channels, and Nvidia announced the 3.2 GeForce Experience update.
June was full of good and bad news, to start off with the bad the Nexus Player was discontinued in sales but still supported, a new Nexus Player allegedly went through the FCC but nothing came of it and the Forge TV tried to give itself away at $99 for the bundle. Now onto the good news of this month. The Pi 3 gained Unofficial Android TV, Google Fiber Boxes became a cast device, VLC unified into 1 app, and Nvidia and Plex teamed up to make the SHIELD TV the first all in one Plex device being able to host and play at the same time. Also Puppetmaster.tv came out, Netflix got Universal Search in Android TV, 3.2 For SHIELD TV released and we found out N stood for Nougat!
July saw Puppetmaster.tv join the Live Channels group, nickelodeon came to Android TV in look at me Orange which i’m sure harmed someones eyes, MTV soon followed, Alexa landed on Android TV, Nick explain what Android TV and an Android box is, A new Riptide game was annouced, NVIDIA’s in house studio changed names and Brian pleaded Nest to bring itself to Android TV(and it worked).
August had a lot of games RipTide GP: Renegade be released and reviewed, Alto’s Adventure got a TV port, Google had the Indie Games Festival, Snakebyte made a controller, ABZU got released and reviewed and was easily one of my favorite games of the year next to the new Riptide. When it wasn’t games it was B&O releasing crazy designed Android TVs, learning more about Nougat, 2nd gen SHIELD TV docs, Puppetmaster.tv hit 2.0, and Google Cast got built into stable Chrome.
With school back in session the news slowed down a bit but still notable things like Phillips flagship TV, Hotlap Heroes brought couch co-op on phones(as controllers) and TV, Plex integrated with HDHomeRun for DVR, JBL made a cast enabled speaker and so did Vizio(2). Chromecast opened up a beta channel, #SIDELOADTAG came on the scene, Fiber TV borrowed Android TV looks, Nougat added all HDR formats, Pine64 got Android TV unoffically. To end the month we got our hands on a Mi Box, Sony filed a weird but cool patent, NVIDIA released a ton of games and Disney brought a lot of multimedia apps to Android TV.
A big month for hardware we saw the Oct 4th event reveal new Google devices from Home to VR to phones and got pricing. Google Play Movies announced 4k support, the SHIELD TV was dropped from the Google Store, LeEco LeOopsed on their TV launch. Exoplayer v2 was released to improve videos on Android, ZTE made a 4k box set, Dolphin added Vulkan API support. PS Vue was added to Android TV, 3.3 for SHIELD TV was released, and Live Channels got DVR and Nick went in depth.
We announced ITVLab also known as the Interactive Television Lab, an open source organization to further Android TV development as a community. Jide announced some cool dual booting boxes, Enterprise Wifi and Launch On Boot came out of ITVLab, we gave a first impression of Google Home and a cheatsheet of commands, Nick talked about the Android TV Library he built at Google over the summer. Twitter live finally came as an Android TV app, Nest delivered on Brian’s wishes, the Cast API gained 4k support, and Vimeo built an Android TV app.
Closing out the year was a lot of updates and announcements for 2017. A 2nd Gen SHIELD TV, Plex Cloud dropping Amazon and adding support for others, New Indie games on GeForce Now, Raumfeld adding Google Cast to all its speakers, and the AirTV from SlingTV on the horizon. As always if you want to dig into something I didn’t cover the search is a click away or hit a category and explore.
A lot happened in 2016 for Android TV and I’m thankfully for all the AndroidTV.News team members and all our readers who make this possible because it wouldn’t be possible without you guys and I hope 2017 tops it!