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Build Android TV app: A step by step guide to creating your Android TV app

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Android TV is rising in popularity owing to the growing consumption of video content over OTT platforms. What gives Android TV an edge over competitors is the ease of use and quick access to content through Android TV apps. 

As a video content creator, you can reach a wider audience through a customized Android TV app. By building your Android TV apps on the Google play store, you can easily make your content available to Android TV users worldwide.

What is an Android TV App?

Android TV is a Smart TV Operating system that is based on Android. Similar to how many mobiles run on Android, many Smart TVs run on Android TV. 

Apps that are built for Android TV are called —wait for it— Android TV apps. 

Enabled by Google Assistant for voice search, Android TV offers the highest level of convenience for a great viewing experience. 

But, the process of building TV apps for Android is not the same as for mobile devices. The most important feature a TV app must have is the ability to display the user interface (UI) on a larger screen. It should also be navigable using a remote, unlike apps that respond to touch on mobile devices. Another important feature you must add to your Android TV app is a response to voice search for a convenient hands-free viewing experience.

Why should you create an Android TV App?

Having your app on Google  Play Store for Android TV undoubtedly gives you access to a wider audience. 

1. Meet the rising demand

 The global android TV market is growing and is expected to reach a whopping US$ 231 billion by 2026. As the industry anticipates a wider reach in the coming years, we suggest you take your content to the Play Store today.

2. User Experience

The Android OS offers a great viewing experience with a wide array of built-in apps, besides the ones viewers can access through the Play Store.

An Android TV app allows your audience to seamlessly enjoy your content while they avail the following features of an Android TV.

1. Easy to operate: The interface is simple and intuitive. Moreover, most viewers are already familiar with using it over their smartphones.

2. Simple voice search: Google Assistant makes navigation easier and convenient for your audience

3. Access to a wider range of apps: Users have a wide variety of apps to choose from the Play Store and install on their device

3 ways to create your Android TV App

Now that you have seen how creating an Android TV app can increase your audience and revenue, let’s look at 3 ways of building an Android TV app:

1. Adapt your existing app

Android TVs are different from Android smartphones and work differently as well. But if you have an existing video streaming app for Android, you can upgrade it to an Android TV app. The official developer guidelines by Android allow you to do it. The process can be quick if you hire a developer with experience in building TV apps. Beyond the struggle of finding the right one, you must have a developer on board to upgrade and maintain your TV app. You may also come across scalability issues as your audience grows.

To be recognized as an Android TV app on Google Play, your application must meet specific criteria.

Guidelines for Android TV app to be approved by Playstore

1. Unlike your mobile phone, The interfaces of your Android TV app should be in landscape orientation. 

2. Make sure your app doesn't have any text or features that get cut off at the edges of the screen.

3. When users perform an in-app search, the search box should display the query, and most importantly, the search results must be pertinent to the entered query

4. When the user switches to another app or returns to the home screen while a video is still playing, the app should display a Now Playing card on the home screen recommendation row to enable the user to easily return to your app and manage playback. 

5. The user experience of your Android TV app’s navigation can make or break it.  Ensure that navigational clicks are intuitive. For example, having a predictable back behavior enables users to move backward using the remote's back button.

2. Hire a developer

If you do not already have an Android app or want a robust Android TV app, hiring a professional developer is an option. A knowledgeable developer may help you build your Android TV app from scratch. You will have total control over the process and achieve a customized end product. However, it involves a higher cost to vet an experienced developer who can create the perfect video streaming app for you. 

Further, it would involve a huge one-time developer fee for creating and customizing the app. Your expenditure doesn’t stop here as maintenance, hosting, support, and security will involve a lot of money and headaches. Additionally, you will need to hire more than one developer to handle the needs of your growing audience as you scale, which increases your recurring cost a lot.

3. Choose a SaaS Platform

If you are still looking for a better option, we suggest you try using a SaaS OTT platform like Ventuno. You can have your own feature-rich Android TV app built from scratch in a fraction of the money you would otherwise spend. You get a platform to easily upload and organize videos, monetize them, and view detailed analytics.

These are the common features of SaaS OTT platforms like Ventuno: 

       1. Video CMS - to upload and organize VOD and live streams 

       2. Video player - to stream the content on your website, mobile & TV apps 

       3. Storage and CDN - to store and stream your videos & live streams 

       4. Encoder - to encode your videos into different formats (required for faster streaming) 

       5. Scalable servers - servers that scale as and when demand increases/ decreases 

       6.  Templates - customizable templates to launch your website, mobile, and TV apps 

       7. Ability to monetize with ads, subscriptions, and pay-per-view 

       8. Detailed reports to understand more about your video business 

The best part? 

You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars and countless hours upfront to launch your Android TV app. SaaS OTT platforms usually charge a monthly fee as a fixed monthly fee and a ‘pay-as-you-go’ usage-based fee. Your subscription includes regular app updates and ongoing maintenance by our team of expert developers.

How to build an Android TV app in 7 simple steps

Step 1: Selecting a Theme
From the Apps section of the left menu, select Connected TV Apps and then select Android TV.
You will see themes, you can preview a theme by clicking on the Preview button below the theme
Also, toggle the light and dark options in the Choose Theme Type on the top to see how it looks before selecting one.
Finally, click on the Save button

Step 2: Filling in Basic Info
Now Move on to the next tab Basic Info
Here fill in details like your App name, Package name, and a description for your app
Select your brand colors
And upload your brand assets - like logos
Then click on the Save button

Android TV Basic Information
📄Here are the details of the assets that you will need

Step 3: Approving Content
Your next step is to approve what shows and playlists you want to make available in your Android TV app. This ensures you have full control over what content is available in which app.

Simply push allowed Shows and playlists to the right side and click Save
Here is how you can restrict some shows or playlists

Step 4: Designing Your Pages
Now we have come to the most interesting part of building your app - Designing each page
There are some default pages with certain prebuilt options - they are
- Home Page
- Show Detail Page
- Video Detail Page
- Movie Detail Page
- Live Page
Also, you can create any number of pages and widgets to them to suit your needs.
Customizing these pages is similar to customizing them on your website or other apps.

Step 5: Customizing the Header
The header is very important for your TV app as it will be available on all pages and enable smooth navigation.
Here are the header options that can be customized
Select the layout for the header
Select the icons for each page
Customize Header

Step 6: App Settings
On this page, you will have to make generic app settings like whether you want the splash screen to be enabled, or the splash video to be looped.
If you would like your Auth page (login page) to have an image and other generic settings


How do I get started with Android TV development for my streaming service?

Begin by setting up your development environment with Android Studio, then refer to Android TV documentation for design and development guidelines

What are the key design principles for creating a user-friendly Android TV app?

Focus on a simple and intuitive user interface, use the Leanback library for consistent design, optimize for a 10-foot viewing experience, and ensure easy navigation with D-pad and remote control.

How can I make my streaming app compatible with various Android TV devices?

Follow Android TV best practices, use the Leanback support library, and thoroughly test your app on different Android TV devices to ensure compatibility.

Are there any specific content guidelines for Android TV apps?

Adhere to Android TV content guidelines, use high-resolution images and video assets, and provide a clear and engaging content presentation.

What is the recommended approach for handling user authentication on Android TV?

Use OAuth 2.0 or similar secure authentication methods. Ensure a seamless authentication experience with minimal user input, considering the limitations of TV remote controls.

How can I optimize video playback for Android TV?

Use ExoPlayer for smooth video playback, support common video codecs, and consider adaptive streaming for varying network conditions.

Are there any specific advertising considerations for Android TV apps?

Implement TV-friendly ad formats, follow Google's ad policy, and test ad integrations thoroughly on different Android TV devices.

How can I optimize my app for performance on low-end Android TV devices?

Optimize resource usage, consider lightweight animations, and test your app on devices with varying hardware specifications.

What are the key steps for submitting my Android TV app to the Google Play Store?

Follow the Google Play submission guidelines, ensure compliance with content policies, and thoroughly test your app before submission.


So, as you see, there are three options to build an Android TV app  - upgrade your existing Android app to a TV app, hire staff to do it, or better yet, let an OTT solution provider do it for you. 

We recommend the last option to build your Android TV app, as it is the most cost and time-effective. It allows you to quickly launch and grow your video business with a strong platform to manage your video operations. 

Looking to launch your streaming app?

Akancha Tripathi

Akancha Tripathi