What is Android TV? Google’s smart TV platform fully explained

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When it comes to smart TVs, these monolithic QLEDs and OLEDs require an net relationship to get you connected to services for illustration Netflix and Disney+. But for illustration immoderate bully machine aliases mobile phone, there’s an operating strategy taking attraction of apps, navigation, and each things personification interface-oriented down nan scenes. For Samsung TVs, this OS is called Tizen, for LG TVs, it’s webOS, and for brands for illustration Sony, TCL, and Hisense, it utilized to beryllium called Android TV, but now (for nan astir part) it’s called Google TV. 

While Google TV is really conscionable an evolutionary leap based connected nan building blocks of Android TV, you’ll still spot nan Android TV moniker connected a modern TV aliases two. Many modern home theatre projectors besides usage nan Android TV OS. That being said, it’s a level that’s still relevant. Here’s everything you request to cognize astir Android TV.

An important statement connected Android TV and Google TV

The Android TV interface connected a TV.Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

In 2021, Google began rolling retired a ample update to nan Android TV platform. This update included galore changes, a caller interface, and a caller sanction — Google TV. Google TV is designed to beryllium much personalized than Android TV, pinch Google’s A.I. capabilities moving down nan scenes to find recommended content. The layout has besides changed to go easier to quickly navigate and much versatile for a assortment of activities. However, it’s nary longer called Android TV.

Some older devices that were utilizing Android TV tin beryllium updated to adopt immoderate of nan Google TV features and nan caller interface, on pinch nan caller name. If you’ve personally updated your instrumentality and recovered that references to Android TV person vanished, this is astir apt why.

Note that nan capabilities and astir of nan existent level stay nan aforesaid arsenic Android TV. Google TV conscionable includes immoderate caller exertion and a caller look to make nan astir of nan latest features. Your Google Account connection, etc., will usability nan aforesaid way.

All that said, location are still a fewer newer TVs that usage nan Android TV platform, truthful nan accusation we’ve gathered beneath is still meticulous and relevant.

What is Android TV?

 Android TV streaming instrumentality and controller connected table.Walmart

Android TV — arsenic you whitethorn person guessed from nan sanction — is simply a type of Google’s Android mobile operating strategy that has been specially configured for TVs and different devices such arsenic projectors. But that explanation doesn’t really convey really different Android TV is from Android.

Android TV focuses connected helping you observe nan contented you tin bask connected your TV, whether it’s done 1 of your subscription services for illustration Netflix, Max, aliases Amazon Prime Video, aliases from your ain individual media postulation via media halfway package for illustration Plex.

Because of that focus, Android TV looks very different from Android. Instead of being greeted by a surface afloat of apps aliases widgets for illustration search, weather, aliases stocks, your device’s media apps are displayed arsenic “ribbons” — a horizontally scrolling group of recommendations and precocious viewed contented from wrong a peculiar app.

The Netflix app, for instance, will show you a ribbon of thumbnails from your in-progress, watch next, and recommended shows and movies.

Android TV tin entree nan Google Play app store, wherever you’ll find thousands of apps that person been designed specifically for Android TV’s 10-foot experience, which intends you won’t beryllium struggling to publication mini matter aliases trying to navigate apps that only activity erstwhile you tin swipe pinch a finger.

Embedded wrong each type of Android TV is nan Google Assistant, which gives you sound power for your TV content, arsenic good arsenic each of your smart location products. Google’s Chromecast exertion is besides included, letting you formed videos and initiate surface sharing from compatible smartphones, browsers, and apps.

Much for illustration nan Roku OS, Amazon’s Fire TV OS, aliases Apple’s tvOS, Android TV supports a wide assortment of TV features, for illustration 4K UltraHD, HDR, and Dolby Atmos. Whether you tin return advantage of these features will dangle connected nan instrumentality that has Android TV installed. The hardware (and your chosen app) must support these features earlier Android TV lets you usage them.

How do I get Android TV?

NVIDIA Shield TV.Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Android TV, until recently, came pre-installed arsenic nan default smart TV personification acquisition connected prime TVs from TCL, Sony, Hisense, Sharp, Philips, and more. You tin besides adhd Android TV to immoderate existing TV that has an HDMI port, pinch an Android TV set-top container from companies for illustration Nvidia and Xiaomi.

Amazon’s Fire TV is often listed arsenic an Android TV device, but don’t beryllium fooled. Amazon utilized nan open-source type of nan Android OS to create its Fire TV OS, but it has very small successful communal pinch Google’s Android TV.

Similarly, beware of alleged Android TV boxes from brands you don’t recognize. There are tons of these connected Amazon and sites for illustration GearBest but they aren’t existent Android TV devices. Instead, they usage nan non-TV type of Android and vessel without sound remotes. For an updated database of each official Android TV devices, cheque retired Google’s merchandise page.

You whitethorn beryllium wondering why Google itself doesn’t waste an Android TV device. The institution did return a ace astatine it pinch nan now-defunct Nexus Player device, but since its demise successful 2016, location was a spread successful Google’s Android TV beingness that its Chromecast devices didn’t fill. And while Google ne'er did rectify this pinch its Chromecast devices, successful 2020 they did yet merchandise nan Chromecast pinch Google TV, a Chromecast pinch an included distant — albeit, pinch nan caller Google TV interface, not Android TV.

How do I group up and usage Android TV?

The Android TV setup screen.Nvidia.com / Google

While it’s imaginable to usage basal Android TV features without a Google account, if you want to download further apps aliases usage nan Google Assistant, a Google relationship is required. You’ll beryllium asked to participate your Google relationship erstwhile you first group up your Android TV device. If you already ain different Android instrumentality for illustration a telephone aliases tablet, you tin usage it to velocity up nan setup process.

You’ll beryllium asked to take a Wi-Fi web (if you don’t person an Ethernet connection) and reply a fewer questions astir locations and preferences — immoderate of which will alteration by instrumentality type. At nan extremity of nan short process, you’ll get astatine nan Android TV location screen.

Android TV devices, whether they’re projectors,  TVs, aliases outer set-top boxes, travel pinch voice-capable distant controls. Once you move nan instrumentality connected and nan location page displays connected your screen, you tin navigate astir nan interface utilizing nan remote’s directional and participate buttons. A Back fastener lets you return to a erstwhile surface aliases menu, while nan Home fastener returns you to nan location screen. The apical ribbon ever shows your database of installed apps, for speedy access, pinch a nexus to nan Google Play Store truthful you tin spell get much apps astatine immoderate time.

But to get nan astir retired of Android TV’s features, you’ll want to summon Google Assistant. Depending connected your device, you mightiness beryllium capable to telephone out, “Hey, Google,” for a hands-free experience, but you tin ever usage nan Mic fastener connected nan remote. When you do, there’s nary request to preface your commands pinch “Hey, Google,” because arsenic soon arsenic you property nan button, it’s listening for instructions.

What are immoderate Android TV sound commands?

To a definite extent, what you tin inquire Android TV to do via Google Assistant will dangle connected which streaming services you person entree to. For instance, “Play Stranger Things connected Netflix,” will only activity if you person a Netflix subscription; however, plentifulness of commands are universal, specified as:

  • “Play immoderate jazz music.”
  • “Play,” “pause,” “stop,” and “resume” while watching immoderate video.
  • “Louder” and “softer” for measurement control.
  • “Open [app name]” to unfastened immoderate installed app.
  • “Show maine nan formed of Friends.”
  • “Tell maine astir The Witcher.“

In addition, you tin usage immoderate of Google Assistant’s smart location commands, which alteration based connected which smart location devices you person connected your location network.

What are immoderate celebrated Android TV apps?

A TV surface pinch examples of Android TV apps.Google

Needless to say, Netflix is conscionable astir nan astir celebrated app connected each streaming media platform, and Android TV is nary exception. You’ll find astir of nan different awesome streaming services too, but location are occasional compatibility issues. The Amazon Prime Video app, for instance, useful conscionable fine, but astatine nan infinitesimal it doesn’t show up arsenic its ain ribbon pinch recommended aliases proceed watching options.

There are besides plentifulness of different lesser-known apps worthy installing. Here are a fewer choices to get you started:

Hulu + Live TV

For years, Hulu refused to update its Android TV app. This meant that nan unrecorded TV action was simply unavailable to Android TV users. That finally changed successful 2019, and now Hulu + Live TV joins Sling and YouTube TV as 1 of nan galore awesome options cord-cutters tin bask connected Android TV.


Kodi is simply a powerful media halfway app that tin find and shape each of your individual media into an easy-to-navigate interface, pinch support for conscionable astir each media record type you tin deliberation of. Highly customizable, Kodi has a estimation arsenic an app that will fto you watercourse Hollywood movies for free, but beryllium warned: This benignant of activity connected Kodi is not officially supported and is simply a ineligible grey area, to opportunity nan least. We urge checking retired our full Kodi explainer earlier you find yourself connected nan receiving extremity of a cease-and-desist order.


A surface of downloaded movies connected nan Plex system.Image utilized pinch support by copyright holder

Similar to Kodi, Plex uses a client/server statement to fto you position and play your individual media files and overmuch more. It’s a acold much powerful and enjoyable measurement of experiencing your movies, music, and photos than simply sticking a USB thrust successful nan backmost of your set-top container aliases TV. We’ve sewage a full guideline to utilizing Plex that will thief you get nan astir retired of it, whether you usage it connected Android TV aliases nan dozens of different devices it supports.


Android TV already supports surface mirroring from Android devices via Chromecast, but iOS users request a solution, too. That’s wherever AirScreen comes in. Fire it up and your Android TV will show up arsenic a selectable AirPlay instrumentality successful nan iOS Control Center. That’s each location is to it.

Puffin TV Browser

Surprisingly, fixed that Google is nan driving unit down Chrome, 1 of nan astir celebrated web browsers connected nan planet, Android TV does not travel pinch a built-in browser of immoderate kind. Puffin TV is 1 of galore apps connected nan Google Play Store that seeks to reside this evident omission, and it does truthful pinch an interface that is perfect for TV. Stripped of each but nan basal functions, it’s a bully measurement to quickly jump connected nan web for nan occasional task that Google Assistant conscionable can’t handle.


There are tons of games for Android TV — excessively galore to database here. Big titles for illustration Asphalt 8: Airborne, Zen Pinball, Crossy Road, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, and galore much are disposable done nan Google Play Store.

Sideloading apps

If you can’t find what you want successful nan Google Play Store, Android TV has different measurement of adding apps called sideloading. Though not arsenic convenient arsenic shopping for and installing apps via Google Play, sideloading is sometimes nan only measurement to adhd hard-to-find apps.

Keep successful mind, however, that sideloaded apps are not verified independently by Google for things for illustration malware. There tin besides beryllium compatibility issues, particularly if nan app successful mobility wasn’t designed for Android TV.

Is Android TV nan aforesaid connected each instrumentality aliases TV?

Sony Android TV location screen.Image utilized pinch support by copyright holder

Just for illustration nary 2 computers moving Windows are precisely alike, location are immoderate differences from 1 Android TV to another. On a Sony TV, for instance, you’ll find image calibration settings for illustration Sony’s proprietary Reality Creation image processing. You’ll besides spot nan action for watching live, over-the-air HDTV channels utilizing nan TV’s built-in tuner.

Android TV devices from cablegram aliases outer operators for illustration AT&T are usually customized to spot an accent connected their broadcast and on-demand content.

On nan Nvidia Shield TV, you’ll person entree to Nvidia’s GeForce Now gaming store, because that peculiar Android TV instrumentality is intended to double arsenic a powerful gaming platform. As we mentioned above, each this is besides existent of Google TV — while nan level has gotten a caller look, that circumstantial look still varies betwixt brands and devices. Generally speaking, nan astir “complete” acquisition tin beryllium recovered connected Google’s ain Chromecast.

You whitethorn besides find that owed to differences successful processing power, not each Android TV instrumentality will beryllium arsenic responsive. Early Sony TVs pinch Android TV felt somewhat sluggish arsenic their underpowered chips struggled to render nan interface and respond to paper choices. New Sony TVs are overmuch improved, and nan Nvidia Shield TV remains nan golden modular for speedy Android TV capacity — Nvidia Shield astir precocious updated to nan newer Android 11, truthful location are immoderate added caller features location arsenic well.

The different processing powers aren’t apt to impact nan device’s expertise to watercourse contented from someplace for illustration Netflix. However, it will make a quality successful apps for illustration Plex and Kodi, arsenic they require nan device’s processor to render various media files. This quality whitethorn besides effect immoderate games.

One much quality you should support an oculus retired for is whether you person 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos support. The Xiaomi Mi Box S, for example, tin grip outputs successful some 4K and HDR, but it doesn’t support immoderate precocious situation sound formats.

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