Behind the Scenes of Android TV Development: An In-Depth Look at Video Streaming Implementation PoC

Introduction

The era of the Smart TV is firmly upon us, with Android TV emerging as a key player. It's versatile, appearing on a wide range of devices such as smart TVs, Chromecast, and TV boxes compatible with older TVs. Typically, Smart TVs are equipped with browsers that can access streaming services. However, due to the limited control options (usually just a remote) and the cumbersome nature of typing, it's preferable to offer the easiest possible access to your service on TV. An installed app grants complete control over the user experience. This means fewer sign-ins (a relief considering the complexity of typing secure passwords via remote), the option of easier sign-in methods like QR codes, and better management of issues such as poor connectivity. But, is developing an Android TV app as daunting as it seems? Not in the slightest! The Android TV ecosystem mirrors that of Android apps, Android Auto, and Android Wear, simplifying the search for skilled developers. As a demonstration, I've developed a simple Proof of Concept (PoC) Android TV app focusing on a critical feature: Internet-based video streaming.

The UI Building

From a technical perspective, building a UI for Android TV mirrors that of standard Android apps. You can employ both Jetpack Compose and XML layouts. However, a key difference lies in user interaction. Mobile apps rely on touch screens, eliminating the 'hover' effect and focusing on ripple effects upon clicking. Android TV apps, conversely, are navigated using a remote control. This necessitates a well-defined 'Selected state'. In my PoC, I implemented this through changing elevation, giving the appearance of a selected card being pushed down. A standard ripple effect follows upon confirmation with the remote, leading to the intended action or navigation.

The Video Streaming

Contrary to expectations, handling video streaming isn't the most challenging aspect. Google offers several recommended prebuilt solutions. Implementing streaming from scratch using MediaPlayer offers full control but is time-intensive. My choice was Google's ExoPlayer. ExoPlayer simplifies the process, managing buffering, playback control, and audio, while still allowing UI customization and additional controls.

Summary

Developing for Android TV is straightforward for those versed in native Android development. At Stonks, we pride ourselves on our meticulous attention to detail and our commitment to the Android and mobile ecosystems. Our passion extends to developing applications for Android TV, Android Auto, and Android Mobile. If you're operating a streaming or music platform, or any service requiring an Android TV app, reach out to us. Let's collaborate and bring your vision to life. For every new client, we extend an exclusive opportunity: enjoy a complimentary 8-hour trial of our services, absolutely free and with no obligations. Experience our expertise firsthand before making your decision to hire us.

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