An Android TV update is on its way which will dramatically change the look and feel of the Google OS, apparently, very much for the better.
Rolling out to Android TV devices across the US, Australia, Canada, Germany and France from today, this fresh lick of paint to the user interface looks aimed at bringing the experience much closer to the Google TV UI which debuted in the Chromecast with Google TV media streamer.
Gone is the flat and boxy home screen and in comes a four-tabbed navigation with a more dynamic background. The mains areas are called Search, Home, Discover and Apps and the focus has moved to the content itself rather than the different services which provide it.
Apps are displayed in a line a the top of the Home page followed by shows which you're currently watching, no matter which streaming service they're on. The big difference appears to be in the Discover tab which, much like the For You section of Google TV, is where Google's cross-service recommendations lie. You can also get a look at what's trending and what's new and it should make finding something to watch much simpler than before.
So far, Google TV is only available on the latest Chromecast with both Sony and TCL announcing Google TV as the UI of choice for their 2021 TVs at CES.
This update to the stock Android TV OS will likely come as relief to those with current Android-based smart TVs and TV manufacturers, like Philips, who have not opted to take up Google TV this year.
The big question, of course, is what this means for Google's TV plans going forward? It had looked as if the name 'Android TV' would melt into the background while Google TV took over as the face of the experience. This revamp puts the two much more on a parallel and adds the danger of fractured ecosystem.