Most Android TV owners do not think about version numbers or chase updates as slavishly as Android phone owners, but that does not mean that software customizations do not hum in the background. And the latest is just around the corner: Android TV 13 – based on the same Android 13 software that powers your handheld – is coming soon, and it offers several important enhancements to your sofa experience.
According to a deep dive into the upcoming operating system that sounds like an unofficial user guide for the new OS, Android TV 13 will include several new features. TechRadar has contacted Google to confirm the feature list, but given the links back to Google’s developer site and the source (the author, Mishaal Rahman, is the former editor-in-chief of the XDA Developers site), we are inclined to believe so.
First, there is an extended image in image mode that allows developers to create PiP windows with custom image formats, as well as the ability to anchor these new windows. Imagine tuning in to a live event and another window pops up, smaller and attached to the corner, with live comments to the event. Or a small pop-up window with running statistics on a sporting event.
Second, there is a new “low power standby” mode on the way to Android, which Rahman suggests may have consequences for owners of televisions powered by the Android OS. In fact, “This feature is intended for Android TV devices and is disabled by default on other configurations,” he notes. Why? The mode apparently disables network access except during specified “deaf maintenance periods”, which apparently prevents your set from waking up randomly and makes your TV more efficient.
The features could very well be revealed during the Google I / O coming on May 11th and will likely put the spotlight on the upcoming Android 13 operating system.
What does it all mean?
Although the changes are relatively limited, it’s good to see improvements coming to Android TV, which powers a huge number of televisions and has a huge untapped potential.
That said, the limiting factor for today’s TV audience is not so much the operating system as it is the chips that power your TV. Even the most beautiful screen out there – and we’re looking at you, the Samsung S95B – will frustrate a user if it’s powered by an outdated, underpowered CPU.
Increasingly, it is the chips that drive our entertainment devices that we need to keep an eye on, and not just the caliber of screen technology or the version number of the set. In addition, updates to Android TV suffer from the same manufacturer dependency that phones do. You will not just receive Android TV 13, in other words, even if you do a manual search for it. Your provider should examine it and push it to your television.
Still, new features mean your next set will be even better than today’s, right? So browse the best TVs out there without fear: the wheels of progress keep rolling, right?