Android smartphone owners will soon be able to use their phones to control their TVs. Google announced the new functionality as one of several new features coming to Android devices.
The remote-control functionality allows users to turn on the TV, navigate through recommendations and select a program to watch, while the phone’s keyboard can be used to search for specific titles or enter passwords. The function works with a TV running the Google TV or other Android TV OS. Android phone users can access the feature through the Google TV app or add the remote control tile to their quick settings for access. Google said the feature will be part of wider availability of the Google TV app, which is coming to 14 more countries over the next few weeks.
In addition, Google announced several new ways to control the phone using facial gestures. Already rolling out, Camera Switches is a feature in the Android Accessibility Suite that turns the front-facing camera into a switch (an adaptive tool that replaces a keyboard, mouse, or touching the phone screen) for navigating the phone. Project Activate is a new app that makes it possible to trigger common expressions with facial gestures and eye movements, such as speaking a phrase (like “Wait!”), playing audio (like a laugh) or sending a text message (like “Please come here”).
All the new features will roll out this autumn to Android devices.
Google’s announced new Android features promise to increase consumer interest in the Google TV streaming platform. The easy interface through a smartphone will likely prove very appealing to users, and as such will probably also stimulate sales of phones that run the Android OS.
For mobile operators, there could be some benefits, as well. While the Google TV and Android TV OS aspects essentially leave MNOs out of the streaming entertainment content equation, the enhanced set of features that the phones will now possess should make it possible to enable various value-added services. The ability to interact with the smartphone without using the keyboard, plus the general capacity of the Android phones to act as remote controls could be applied to apps and even IoT devices that operators could develop and brand or co-brand.
In addition, if the new Android OS appeals to consumers and stimulates device sales, MNOs will profit via the device deals they offer subscribers. On the whole, we can say that advances in operating systems have economic benefits that trickle down to mobile operators, but that mobile operators can also exploit them to generate more revenue through creative applications.