[Poll results live] Google should open up future Android TV beta programs to Chromecast & other 3rd-party consumer devices

New updates are being added to the bottom of the story…

Original story (from August 08) follows:

Android TV devices hardly feature in the top connected TV devices – a subject that is well dominated by Roku and Fire TV. But that doesn’t mean the Google-owned platform has no impact on this market.

Over the past few years, Android TV has increased its market share, with 2021 witnessing the most significant leap in a bid to catch up with its competitors.

At the I/O 2021 event in May, Google revealed that Android TV commands a massive global following with 80 million monthly active devices, up from the regions of 50 million the previous year.

Mecool-KM1-Android-TV-Box-feature
Mecool KM1 Android TV box

In the U.S. alone, which isn’t the TV OS’ biggest market (more Asians are into Android TV compared to Americans), the platform registered a year-over-year growth of 80%.

The fact that Android TV has such massive numbers yet it rarely features in conversations around top connected TV devices is huge for Google. It only serves to add more weight to the belief that Android TV has a big future.

Last fall, Google gave Android TV OS a facelift with the Google TV experience. Of course, Google’s own Chromecast was the first to showcase the new experience, but it has since found its way to other 3rd-party devices.

Sure, some of you would like Google to make the new experience optional, such that Android TV users can enable or disable it at will. But that’s probably not going to happen.

nvidia-shield-tv
NVIDIA Shield TV (2019)

Another thing that’s probably not happening anytime soon but I’d still want to see Google push towards is support for more devices in the official Android TV beta program.

As of this writing, Google already has a beta version of Android 12 for TV. However, the firmware is only available for the ADT-3 Developer Kit.

For a platform that boasts millions of devices across the globe, having only one device participating in the beta program isn’t what you expect from Google. It’s not happening for the first time, though.

This was the case with Android 11 beta for TV as well, which to date, hasn’t even arrived on the latest Chromecast with Google TV. In fact, one can easily count the number of devices on Android 11 TV.

Android-TV-beta-program
(Source)

Android 10 TV, which currently powers a good number of devices alongside Android 9, was announced in 2019 alongside this ADT-3 developer kit.

Unlike Android 11 and now 12, there was no device to beta-test Android 10, so many had to wait until the OS actually arrived on consumer devices like NVIDIA Shield, smart TVs and set-top boxes to take it on a ride.

Heck, not even the search giant’s own Chromecast with Google TV has had a sniff at the current Android 12 TV beta testing program, leave alone 3rd-party devices from NVIDIA, Sony, TCL and co.

For this reason, I tend to think that perhaps this lack of or rather the limited consumer-focused beta testing, like with the case of smartphones, for instance, where the beta program is a norm, could partly be holding back Android TV’s wider adoption.

Android-12-TV-beta-program

Apple, for instance, runs a beta program for its tvOS platform that allows devs to prepare their apps on time as well as the public to test the software and share feedback, which is used to iron out any kinks before the official rollout.

While this doesn’t always guarantee stable and bug-free software at the end, you’re more likely to get a better experience with superior optimizations and more global features.

With Android TV, the beta program is limited to devs with the ADT-3 kit, which limits the extent to which the OS can be tested. Having the option to collect feedback from actual end users is even more valuable to devs.

With more devices from 3rd-party OEMs taking part in the beta testing program and not just the ADT-3 developer kit, we could see a more stable Android TV platform with more apps since much more devs can test their apps ahead of the wider rollout.

ADT-3-developer-kit
ADT-3 Developer Kit

A few years ago, only Google Pixel phones took part in beta testing Android. But today, plenty of other 3rd-party players like Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus and so on are part of this program.

The result of this has been speedy adoption of the latest OS compared to previous versions.

Of course, other Google initiatives like Project Treble have played their part in this as well. But if Android TV follows similar lines, there’s definitely going to be a significant improvement in both adoption numbers and adoption rate.

The question is will Google open up the program to the public? Perhaps time will tell, but I think it would be huge for Android TV in general if this were to happen.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below. We also have a Twitter poll that you can vote, with the results to be announced next week.

Update 1 (August 15, 2021)

The results for the poll are out. A vast majority (over 70%) of those voted are in agreement that they will try Android TV beta update on their Chromecast, smart TV or set-top box if Google opened it to the public.

In case you missed the poll, you can share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

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Hillary Keverenge

A techy. Besides phones, I also enjoy the farm, music, football, and, of course, food.