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23 August 2011, 14:47

Google TV brings Android apps to the big screen

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Google TV

At this year's Google I/O developer conference, the company announced plans to open up Google TV to the Android Market. A first crucial step towards bringing apps to TV screens has now been taken with the release of a preview version of the Google TV Add-On for the Android SDK. The add-on enables Google TV to be emulated within the development environment, allowing app developers to set to work on adapting their applications to the new environment.

The planned upgrade of the Google TV operating system to Honeycomb is set to pave the way to running apps on a TV. This will make the system compatible with Android, and thus make it possible to officially run Android apps on suitable Google TV-based devices. As well as completely new applications, developers will also be able to port existing mobile and tablet apps and sell them via the Android Market.

The current preview version of the Google TV add-on requires a Linux OS with KVM – Windows and Mac OS X are not currently supported. Once they've overcome this hurdle, developers can check the compatibility of their apps with Google TV. According to Google, some apps may already be compatible without further adaptation. A glance at the UI guidelines is nonetheless advisable, particularly as some Google TV graphic elements differ from their Android device equivalents.

Google is also advising developers who wish to make their apps available for Google TV to take a close look at its feature support documentation. If the application manifest specifies functions which are not available in Google TV, it will not be able to be distributed on the Android Market. A typical example would be an app which would normally be controlled via a touch screen; such an app would require modification, typically by the use of the android.hardware.faketouch feature which emulates touchscreen control with mouse gestures. The manifest would then have a line added to indicate that touchscreen is not required.

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