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Android TV 13 gets stable release with a big caveat



The Android operating system is more widespread than any other operating system in the world, running on more than 2.5 billion smartphones. Furthermore, there is a version of Android that powers TV devices such as Chromecasts and also runs apps just like the version intended for smartphones.

While both of these operating systems get yearly updates, the smartphone version does so at a faster rate, largely due to the large install base. To further emphasize this, while Android 13 has been out for a while now, it is only now that Google has officially released Android 13 for Android TV, which you will not even be able to run for the time being if you are a common user.

Android 13 for Android TV is currently only available for ADT-3 and the Android TV emulator. Therefore, unless you are a developer, you will not be seeing Android TV 13 on your Chromecast or Android box for the time being.

Google explains that the new version focuses on performance and accessibility. Developers will have the ability to select between Android TV and the Google TV interface when testing out their applications.

The new OS introduces new APIs to aid developers in bringing high-quality experiences to users accessing their applications through different device types. Some of the changes being introduced by Android TV 13 include;

  • Improving the AudioManager API to allow developers to anticipate audio attribute support for the active audio device and select the optimal format without starting playback.
  • Users will now be able to change the default resolution and refresh rate on supported HDMI source devices for a more reliable playback experience
  • HDMI state changes are now surfaced to the MediaSession lifecycle, allowing TV dongles and other HDMI source devices to save power and pause content in reaction to HDMI state changes.
  • The InputDevice API now supports different keyboard layouts
  • A new audio descriptions API now allows an app to query the system-wide audio description preference setting, which helps developers in providing audio descriptions that are in line with a user’s preference automatically

When this update will roll out to the wider user base is a mystery. The latest Chromecasts only received an update to Android 12 earlier this year, meaning the realistic timeline is around the midpoint of 2023 at the earliest, and much later for older Chromecasts and other devices running Android for TV.

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