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Android TV to Improve Picture-in-Picture, Accessibility in Update

Matt Tamanini

As part of its annual I/O presentation, Google has begun releasing details about its Android TV 13 update, including exciting changes in regard to picture-in-picture functionality and accessibility. The updates are currently in beta testing and are expected to roll out to all users by the end of the year.

The update will expand Android TV’s existing picture-in-picture capabilities by introducing a “Docked PiP” application programming interface (API) that will make sure that the smaller, secondary screen never covers the most important part of the primary screen.

According to Google’s senior developer relations engineer Paul Lammertsma, “The underlying app can choose to opt out of this dock mode when it makes sense — for instance, when browsing content.”

PiP windows will also be more flexible to accommodate different needs with the new Expanded Mode. For example, if a viewer is using a video app to chat with friends and family while watching a show or movie, they will be able to increase the size of the call window in order to include more people in the chat.

Combined wth the Docked PiP functionality, this will allow users to get the most out of both parts of the video experience.

To improve Android TV’s accessibility, the new update will allow users to adjust the size of text on their screen and will introduce new options to accommodate varying keyboard layouts through the new InputDevice API.

These changes will provide opportunities for users with varying needs to use Android TVs in ways that best meet them where they are.

Additionally, Google provided information on improvements to its app performance. The new “AudioManager” will help the TV to anticipate what the audio needs are for a particular program and will tailor the playback to follow suit.

“By using AudioManager’s new Get Direct Playback support,” Lammertsma told developers, “you’re able to understand more precisely which playback mode is available on the currently active audio route with a given format and attributes.”

These changes will first be made available exclusively on the ADT-3 developer device before rolling out to all Android TV users. However, it is not clear when — if ever — they will be available on Chromecast from Google TV.

What the full Android TV I/O Developer Session: