Friday, March 11, 2016

Next Android TV version adds PIP, multi-user & more

Google has unveiled the first details about its next major version of Android. The so-called “Android N” version brings features such as picture-in-picture, multi-user support and recording in apps to Android TVs from Sony and Philips as well as media boxes such as Nvidia Shield. You can try Android N now.

Android N for TVs

The current Android M version - also known as 6.0 and Marshmallow - has yet to reach TVs from Sony and Philips. So far, Nvidia is the only manufacturer (besides Google’s own Nexus Player) that has made Android M available on its device. Android M was released in the second half of 2015.

However, Google is already hard at work on the next major version of Android that will be known by the letter “N”. For Android TV devices it will first and foremost add picture-in-picture functionality. This will allow you to minimize the video player and place it in one of the four corners of the screen. It should be useful while browsing for example YouTube or in order to avoid commercial breaks during shows.

Android TV picture-in-picture

Another new feature is recording. TVs from Sony and Philips already offer recording capabilities for TV channels but with this new feature you will also be able to record content from within apps. One could imagine that this would be useful for YouTube, Twitch and others. However, it will only work if the developer allows it. Potentially it will also allow you to record gameplay in games. 

The third major addition, which Google does not mention on its developer portal, is multi-user support. Sascha Prüter from Google explains; ”actually multi-user support is in N. But apps (including our own) still need to implement the account switcher”. This feature will make it possible to have user profiles on the TV. Not just for Netflix, but for the entire system, allowing each user to customize the home screen.

If you want to try Android N you can install it on your Nexus Player (or phone) now by registering at this link. Afterwards you will be able to download the update to your device.

The final version of Android N is expected to be released in Q3 2016. In the meantime, Google will release new betas every month. So what does the N stand for? Google ”is “nut tellin’ you yet” .


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