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From the author of How Can I Write Native Android Applications for Google TVs?

How Can I Write Native Android Applications for Google TVs?

Native Google TV apps are written using the Android SDK and can be published through the Android Market. At this time, Google TVs are running the Honeycomb SDK (Android 3.1+). One of the big problems right now is that developers develop Google TV apps now, but unless they are on the early adopter program (closed), they cannot deploy their apps to the platform yet. That said, Google has stated that starting this summer, they will open the Android Market for all developers to ship Google TV apps, so this could change anytime now! Start porting now to reap the rewards of being an early adopter.

To develop native apps for Google TV, you should be familiar with how Android applications are designed, developed, and deployed in general. Android developers should consider Google TV simply as a niche target device. In fact, in a lot of ways, it’s just a giant tablet without a touch screen, camera, etc.

Setting up for Google TV development is a matter of making sure you have the latest Android tools (Honeycomb). For now, most developers cannot deploy and test their apps on real hardware. Instead, you can create an AVD configuration for your emulator to mimic Google TV behavior and test this way for now. You must use a Honeycomb emulator for this to work. For AVD specifics, check out this write-up.

Most of the challenges of porting an Android app to Google TV revolve around:

  • Setting the appropriate manifest file settings to allow for, market filter for, and do not accidentally exclude Google TV devices.
  • Using appropriate alternative resources for large, high-definition television displays (at 10 feet).
  • Avoiding certain methods and API calls that assume telephony device features.
  • Adjusting user interface controls to be large and readable for television viewing.
  • Adjusting layout navigation to support D-pad as the primary input. Add handling for the media keys for play, pause, etc.
  • Much like tablet development, avoid using methods and APIs that assume telephony device features.

To learn more about getting started with native Android app development for the Google TV, you’ll want to start with the Google TV Android Developer’s Guide.

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