What Is Android TV? How Is It Different From Smart TVs?

The best TV platform owned by Google.

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what is android tv
Image: Google.

Television has come a long way from just flickering screens you can watch daily soaps on. Modern TVs can run several apps and games for everyone to enjoy. Among these TV platforms is Google’s Android TV, which houses the Android operating system and can run Android apps.

While many other TVs out there can run apps, they have different software and base operating systems. Android TV is basically the regular Android OS transformed to run on big screens. Likewise, it’s currently the best choice if you’re looking for a smart TV unless you’re neck-deep in the Apple ecosystem.

What is an Android TV?

android tv home
Image: Android/Google.

Android TV pretty much gives out the idea of what it is. The TV operating system comes in many modern TVs and even third-party boxes that you can attach to older TVs.

While Android TV is the old Android OS, it has different design aspects to fit the big screens. For instance, instead of a home screen with app icons and widgets, you get a screen with multiple horizontal ribbons providing content recommendations. Likewise, if you open Netflix, you’ll see several ribbons showing movies and TV shows sorted by genre.

Moreover, Google’s Android TV platform has several unique features like the Play Store, Google Assistant, and Chromecast. This means that you can easily download all supported apps and games from the Play Store, which is convenient. The addition of an Assistant makes your TV watching experience better, as it’s easier to use voice commands than push buttons.

The Transition to Google TV

In 2021, Google decided to revamp its TV platform and give it a new look. Consequently, a new TV platform with a fresh look came out with a new name. The primary feature of Google TV that the company is showing off is its AI-based recommendations system.

Google TV ditches the old ribbon design and puts some new buttons on your screen. Google’s abrupt change of plans left everyone confused. You could say that Google TV is Android TV with a unique design.

Many new devices running Google TV from brands like Sony and Hisense are starting to appear in the market. Also, some older devices like the Nvidia Shield TV will receive the Google TV refresh via an update.

How is it different from an Smart TV?

You might have inevitably heard about several brands offering Smart TVs that aren’t Android TVs. These TVs run their own operating system. All smart TVs do not necessarily have the same OS or software, depending on the manufacturer.

These television sets are less popular because of their software. For example, they can only run a limited set of apps that very few developers support. Hence, they do not end up in many users’ hands.

While the Android TV market has become enormous with exponential gains over the past few years, some brands still make smart TVs for some reason. If you want to buy a TV with smart features, you should probably get an Android TV.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Siddharth Dudeja

Siddharth Dudeja

An engineering student with a keen interest in most aspects of technology. Likes to write about Microsoft, Apple, Laptops, Gaming, etc.

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