Google has built a new Android TV device solely for developers, the Android TV team announced during a session at the company’s Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, Calif. Tuesday. ADT-2, as the new device is being called, is a full-fledged Android TV streaming device that’s about the size of a Chromecast streaming adapter.
It supports 4K video streaming and packs 8 GB of storage space and 2 GB of memory. The ADT-2 ships with a Bluetooth LE remote control that offers access to the Google Assistant via built-in microphone.
The ADT-2 first surfaced in a recent FCC filing, which showed a mystery Android TV dongle donning a big G logo. The device’s name is a reference to the ADT-1, a streaming box that Google handed out to developers when it first launched Android TV back in 2014.
Google is not selling the ADT-2 to the general public, but instead shipping it to a limited number of developers. Any developer interested in receiving a unit can sign up for it via this Google Form.
Other than the new developer device, Google also announced a few software updates for Android TV Tuesday. Google’s Android-based smart TV platform received a major UI make-over last year with the roll-out of Android O. This year, Google is instead introducing smaller enhancements under the hood, including an optimized set-up process. Android TV devices that run the next version of Android, code-named P, will identify nearby mobile phones via Bluetooth.
During setup, they will then send a notification to such a nearby phone, prompting users to verify a code displayed on the TV screen. This will allow users to log in with their Google username and password without having to rely on an on-screen keyboard and TV remote.
What’s more, Android TV devices will automatically present a list of streaming apps a user may have installed on their phone, and suggest to install them on the TV device as well — and even transfer the credentials. This should make the setup process for new users 33 percent faster, Android TV director of engineering Sascha Prueter recently told Variety.
The announcement comes a day after Google unveiled a collaboration with JBL for an Android TV-powered sound bar. The JBL Link Bar, as it is being called, effectively combines your typical TV sound bar with a voice-controlled smart speaker and a full-fledged Android TV streamer, all in one device. It will ship before the end of the year, with pricing and other details to be announced this fall.
The launch of the Link Bar is in part an effort to appeal to cord cutters and others looking to add smarts to their existing TV sets — a market that Android TV hasn’t fared as well in, with competitors like Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku and Google’s own Chromecast handily outselling Android TV-based streamers.
However, Prueter said that Android TV had nonetheless been a success for Google, and that the company continued to see a lot of demand from pay TV operators well as TV manufacturers looking for a smart TV solution. “We are doubling our active user base every year,” he told Variety last week.