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Android TV gets Google Play Instant apps, PIN purchases and more

Android TV is Google’s platform for smart TVs with more than 7,000 Google Play apps on Android TV. The platform has had a strong success despite fierce competition from other home-grown alternatives. Android TV now boasts 80% growth in active users every month, along with 7 of the top 10 TV manufacturers worldwide and over 160 TV operators. Google had recently announced the Android 11 Developer Preview for Android TV, and today, as part of its 11-week Android series, Google highlights the changes and improvements that the latest update to Android TV will bring to smart TVs. What is even better is the fact that most of these features will also be made available for older versions of Android TV (9 and 10).

Google Play Instant on TV

Instant apps for Android first appeared on Google I / O 201

6. With Instant apps, users could test apps without the hassle of actually installing them. Instant apps worked by dividing a built-in app into small parts, which could be loaded faster and downloaded and then run quickly. It displayed the UI screen of an app, and as soon as it was closed, it was removed and did not need to be uninstalled, as it had not been installed in the first place.

Now Google Instant Apps brings the experience to TV with Google Play Instant. Android TV app developers can now allow users to try out their apps directly on Google Play with Google Play Instant on TV. Users can choose to install the app after experiencing it. This should be practical as smart TVs usually have limited storage capacity compared to smartphones.

Google Play Instant on Android TV

Android TV Emulator with Play Store support

Google is also making it easier for developers to test their apps, as the official Android TV emulator now supports Google Play. Developers will now be able to test subscriptions faster through the emulator instead of having to test on a real device all the time, which would have been quite cumbersome on TVs.


Google Play on Android TV will now make it easier for users to make purchases by having them enter a PIN instead of a password.

Gboard TV

Gboard for Android TV now gets new layouts and features that make better use of speech-to-text and predictable writing. This should make it easier to enter data, especially through remote controls that are not intended to be used extensively for typing.

Gboard TV for Android TV

Auto Low Latency Mode

Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) was first discovered in June 2020 as a feature of the upcoming Google “Sabrina” Android TV dongle. Auto Low Latency Mode is a feature in the HDMI 2.1 specification that allows the unit to send a signal to the connected TV to disable any finishing features that may add latency to view the video. Many TVs will market this feature as a “Game Mode” as it is most useful for reducing game delays.

As Google mentions, in Android 11 and later, a window can request that the automatic low latency or game mode be used, if any, by requesting minimal finishing. This is especially useful for gaming and video conferencing applications, where low latency is more important than having the best possible graphics. Google also made it clear to us that this is the only feature that is exclusive to Android 11 on Android TV, and that it must be further adopted by device manufacturers individually.

App developers can prepare their apps by including the ALLM option in the Android manifesto or branching their code by OS version, and then the OS automatically uses ALLM if available or works normally if it does not.

Leanback Library improvements

The latest leanback library focuses on simplifying app navigation and compatibility with improvements such as easier navigation of top tabs, search via media titles and shared code bases over mobile and TV.

As mentioned earlier, only Auto Low Latency Mode is an Android 11 exclusive feature. Other features will also be made available for Android TV based on Android 9 and Android TV based on Android 10 as well.

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