Android TV Devices and suitability for Applicaster apps
- Guidance Note
Apps are used to deliver entertainment content on a wide range of OTT devices available in the market. The majority - Smart TVs, AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire - are devices that are built to a specification on behalf of a brand resulting in a defined and predictable level of performance. For Android devices the market place is more complex due to the open source nature of Android and hence anyone being able to build Android devices.
Types of Android device
Only considering OTT devices for connecting to a TV set with an HDMI cable (not Android mobile devices), there are 3 categories of Android device that can be purchased.
Uncertified Android devices
These are based on low cost reference designs and sold fairly cheaply by ODMs (Original Design and Manufacturer). The Android Open Source Operating System is deployed but
- It may be unpredictably modified by the ODM
- The device is not certified by Google
- The device will not have a Google Mobile Services (GMS) licence and so should not have access to the Google Play Store. However, some apps might be pre-loaded by the ODM and side-loading of apps possible
- The ODM will have deployed their own user interface onto the device to make it look like some form of TV device and manage apps
- The remote control will not meet certified Android TV requirements nor have voice control
These devices are widely available on Amazon and other market places. Their advertising may state ‘Android TV device’ but this is not the same as certified Android TV. It will be using the standard Android distribution with some attempts to make it suitable for connecting to a TV set.
Due to the unpredictable performance of these devices, together with the lack of legitimate Google Play Store access these devices are not supported by Applicaster apps.
Android Open Source Project devices
An Operator can take an ODM Android Device with Android Open Source Software and build a robust device for their own managed service requirements.
- No GMS license is available on these devices and so it will not have access to the Google Play Store
- The operator takes the responsibility to manage the UI/UX together with what apps are deployed on it and their quality, together with the quality of the hardware
As operators manage their own apps and there is no Google Play Store access these devices are not directly supported by Applicaster apps. However, a direct relationship between Operator and App owner could result in the Operator deploying the app. Conformance testing of the app will be managed by the Operator.
Google Certified Android TV devices
- These are based on a higher performance hardware specification as defined by Google
- The core CPU type, speed, memory configuration
- GMS licence is mandatory
- Conformance to Google Certified Test Suite (CTS) is mandatory
- The Google ‘leanback’ user interface must be used
- Apps must meet Google Play Store submission requirements
- Access to the Google Play Store is legitimate for devices that pass Google certification
- These devices are available as retail set-top boxes or supplied through an operator as part of their managed service (known as ‘Operator Tier Android TV’) or as full Televsions
- Operator deployed devices may have additional capabilities such as broadcast tuner reception, multicast support and an operator customised launch screen and UI
- Devices will have the specific Android TV remote control with voice control
As Android TV devices are certified and have access to the Google Play Store these are directly supported by Applicaster apps.
Google themselves do not publish a list of certified devices. A non-Google affiliated website can be found at https://sites.google.com/view/droid-tv/ where there is a list of Operator deployed devices, retail devices, and TV sets that use certified Android TV.
Official Android TV logo
Example of a certified Android TV device