Google Stadia is coming to Android TV in 2020, possibly with Android 11 R

Google Stadia is coming to Android TV in 2020, possibly with Android 11 R

Each year, tech companies gather in Amsterdam for the International Broadcasting Convention. Think of it like CES or MWC but more aimed at the TV industry. Google attends the event to unveil the latest updates for the Android TV ecosystem, and this year was no different. At the event, the company unveiled its roadmap for Android TV in 2020 and 2021. An attendee who wishes to remain anonymous sent us a picture of a slide titled “ATV continues to bring to partners free innovation at an accelerated pace,” but we were asked not to share the picture. Still, we can reproduce the text shown in the slide to share Google’s plans for the next two years of its TV OS. Stadia integration is the headliner, of course, since there’s a lot of hype around the cloud gaming service.

Here’s the roadmap, with my comments contained in brackets and descriptions for the acronyms in parenthesis:

  • Android 10 Q/2019
    • Assistant for Operators EAP (Early Access Program). [Google Assistant arrived on select Android TV devices in 2017, but it seems that Google may allow operators to customize the Assistant with new phrases.]
    • Play Store refresh, subscriptions & discovery. [Google showed off this new design at Google I/O 2019.]
    • Single build programs & turnkey OTT (Over-the-top) device.
    • Pilot homescreen and instream ads. [There was some confusion earlier this year when a “sponsored” row appeared on some Sony Android TV devices. We hope these are less intrusive.]
    • Performance test suite.
    • 5.0k Apps.
  • Android 11 R/2020
    • Assistant for Operators GA (General Access) more partners & i18n (internationalization.)
    • Assistant farfield reference designs, improved x-device targeting.
    • Hero device advancing next-gen smart home UX, e.g. Lens, Camera. [Google is apparently working on bringing Google Lens and Android 10’s Live Captions to Android TV, according to a slide titled “Applying Google innovation to TV.”]
    • Expand homescreen and instream ads offering.
    • Stadia integration.
    • Reference video broadcast.
    • 8.0k Apps? [This is how many apps Google wants to see on the Play Store for Android TV in 2020.]
  • Android 12 S/2021 & beyond
    • Assistant for Operators: continuously improve quality, i18n (internationalization), and operator integrations.
    • Hero device program advancing next-generation.
    • Continue to lower TTM/TCO (time to market/total cost of ownership) & expand monetization options.
    • Less fragmentation in HW (hardware) + SW (software) solutions, fewer builds.
    • Hold the line on memory & power, critical user journeys.
    • Continuous performance monitoring of production devices.
    • 8.0-10k Apps? [Google’s target for 2021 and beyond.]

The biggest news here, as I mentioned before, is the Google Stadia integration. At the Game Developer Conference earlier this year, Google announced its ambitious cloud gaming service that’s cross-platform and really low-latency. At launch, you’ll be able to stream nearly 40 games at up to [email protected] from Google’s cloud servers to 2018 or 2019 Pixel smartphones, the Google Chrome browser, or the Chromecast Ultra, though Google plans to expand support to more Android smartphones and Android TV. For all the latest news on Google Stadia, check out our constantly-updated article.

We didn’t know when Stadia would add support for Android TV, but it looks like it’ll be next year. If we’re reading this correctly, it looks like the integration arrives with the Android 11 R update. Take note that Android TV has a different release cycle than Android for smartphones, so Android 11 won’t make its way to TVs until a few months after it reaches smartphones. We don’t know exactly when the update will roll out nor do we know why a major OS update needs to roll out to bring Stadia support in the first place. As far as we know, Stadia is supposed to just be an app, but perhaps Android TV may need some framework changes to optimally run Google’s cloud gaming service. We’ve reached out to Google to clarify and will update this article when I hear back.

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