Your Google TV’s home screen is getting a nice makeover

Summary

  • Google TV’s latest visual overhaul introduces circular icons, saving space and offering a new look to the home screen.
  • The redesign also adds more apps in the Your apps section, with customization options for reordering and adding apps included as well.
  • Google TV now includes a shortcut to free TV channels in the Your apps section for users to enjoy a variety of TV content at no cost.



We really love the Google TV platform for all that it brings to the table, with the platform receiving a performance upgrade back in December, bringing faster load times and other enhancements. Google is now announcing a visual overhaul for Google TV with a couple of visual changes and minor tweaks to existing functionality.


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Google TV has been prepping this redesign of icons in the Your apps section for a while now. Back in November, Google revealed how developers would need to make changes to their icons for Google TV apps. Android expert and AP contributor Mishaal Rahman’s post on X explained this new requirement in great detail back then.

Google TV Redesign 2024 Feb

The circular app icons provide a new look to the Google TV home screen, which currently features chunky rectangular boxes/icons for each app in the Your apps row. This new design also saves plenty of space, with Google saying it has increased the number of apps in the Your apps section, while also adding reorder and add apps buttons for additional customization of the horizontal row. In its current form, scrolling to the end of the Your apps row offers a See all option, which opens a page showing all the apps installed on the Google TV product.


The Top picks for you section of the Google TV homescreen.

Here’s what the Your apps row looks like right now

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Android 15 might force more apps to take up 100% of your screen

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • The status and navigation bars take up precious screen space, but they’re capable of going transparent so Android apps can display content underneath them.
  • This is called edge-to-edge mode, but many apps do not support this feature.
  • Code snippets suggest that Android 15 could force some apps to go edge-to-edge by default.

Smartphones are much bigger than they used to be a decade ago. Thanks to the increased screen space, you can fit more content than you could in the past. But the sizes of smartphones and their bezels have plateaued in the last few years, so app developers need to get clever with how they use the available space. Android has long offered apps the ability to use the entire height and width of the display — i.e., go edge-to-edge — but many apps don’t take advantage of this. That could change with the release of Android 15, though, which is poised to force some apps to go edge-to-edge by default.

Today, in order to go edge-to-edge, apps need to opt-in by implementing a few APIs. This is because drawing the UI behind the navigation bar and status bar (otherwise known as “system bars”) might not make sense for every app, especially if there are interactive elements like buttons that would overlap with the system bars. Developers have a way to address these overlaps before enabling edge-to-edge mode for their apps, but the fact that this is necessary shows why Google has so far chosen not to enforce this behavior for every app. Those days might be ending, though, as I discovered code in the latest Android 14 QPR2 beta that suggests the OS might enforce this behavior for apps that target the next version of Android.

It’s possible many apps will need

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Android 15 could finally reclaim some free screen real estate

Summary

  • Android 15 may require apps on the Play Store to utilize edge-to-edge mode, displaying content under the status bar and navigation bar for a better user experience.
  • Implementing edge-to-edge mode is currently opt-in, and may not be feasible for smaller apps or those with buttons that would overlap with system bars.
  • These changes could have a significant impact on foldable phones and make Android apps resemble iOS apps. The final decision will be revealed with the release of the initial developer beta builds for Android 15.


Android updates have focused on the beautification of user interfaces since Android 12 when Google introduced Material You and dynamic theming. However, things continue to get better, and a lot of improvement now comes through optimization of the existing UI designs. Recently spotted code suggests apps could look better on Android 15, with proper optimizations in place for displaying under the status bar and gesture navigation bar, so content can utilize every inch of the device display.

In the early days of Android, navigation buttons and the status bar rendered a large portion of our screens useless. However, screen-to-body ratios soared, and phone displays became larger, while Android allowed apps to display content under the status bar, around hole-punch cameras, and beneath the navigation bar or pill seen when using gestures. This is aptly named edge-to-edge mode, but even on Android 14, it is opt-in, and app developers aren’t pressured to implement it.

Yes, full-screen apps like e-book readers, video players, and the best Android games use edge-to-edge mode, but you won’t see it with apps like Google Keep or smaller apps developed by individuals. That’s partly because in-app buttons would overlap with the system bars or the effort involved in implementing the relevant APIs just won’t make sense.

edge-2-edge-mode-Android-15-forced-portrait

Source: Mishaal Rahman/Android Authority

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Chromecast with Google TV is now auto-playing full-screen product ads on the home screen

Chromecast with Google TV Autoplaying video ads 3

TL;DR

  • Chromecast with Google TV owners are complaining of a new ad on their TV’s home screen.
  • This ad is an auto-playing, full-screen ad for a physical product rather than the usual “recommendations” for digital content.

Many users have loved the Chromecast with Google TV for being a good option for watching movies and TV shows on dumb TVs. But many have also complained of the increase in ads that the Google TV variant of the streaming stick brings over its predecessors. The latest complaints on this end come from users who are now being served auto-playing video ads for food rather than the usual media recommendation.

Reddit users thevincentasteroid and MMD3_ posted about an auto-playing video ad (with sound) on the home screen. The ad is for Chicken Tender Wraps from Carl’s Jr. When it begins auto-playing, it pushes all the other UI elements out of focus and goes almost full-screen, returning to the home screen after it has played through once.

While Google TV has had video ads on the home screen for a while, these have usually been restricted to digital media content, like new TV shows and movies, served around under the guise of “recommendations.” Ads for non-media content (physical products) have usually been limited to static images. This appears to be the first time an advertisement for a physical product has appeared as an auto-playing full-screen video directly on the home screen.

Many users have tolerated “recommendation” ads as they can serve legitimate discovery needs in certain instances. But physical product ads on the home screen seem to have ruffled some feathers. As a workaround, annoyed users can install the Projectivy Launcher on their Android TV streaming device for a cleaner home screen experience.

The Chromecast with Google TV also received a software update recently.

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Force apps to go full screen

The Google Pixel Tablet and Google Pixel Fold are ambitious devices by Google designed to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible. They offer great features out of the box, but a few things can’t be solved without support from the app developer community. The Pixel Fold is one of the best foldable phones, but many apps don’t properly support the new form factor. This guide shows you how to change the aspect ratio of your apps if they don’t scale correctly on these new larger-screen displays.


What’s the issue with full-screen apps?

The Pixel Tablet is Google’s first official Android-based tablet in a while, which means many app developers need to optimize their apps to use the features of that device. At the same time, the Pixel Fold is Google’s first foldable phone on the market. These devices are new form factors that need support from third-party app developers. Since they are unique, they have been slower to receive the same level of support that traditional smartphones get.

A Google Pixel Fold laying on the back of a Google Pixel Tablet.

Android-based tablets have existed for many years, but their potential is often untapped and may go unnoticed. Foldable phones are a new concept for the average consumer. With these bold changes from the Pixel Tablet and Pixel Fold, Google wants to bring both form factors to the next level. This is done to set a new industry standard and help the general Android tablet and foldable market grow. Google is laying the foundation, giving app developers the tools they need, and showcasing what’s possible with these new form factors.

Is there something we can do about it?

It’s primarily up to the app developers to optimize their apps when new devices and device form factors come out. The same goes for each new major version of Android. In this

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Google Keep will soon let you quickly jot notes from the lock screen

Google Keep Notes stock photo 1

TL;DR

  • If you want to take notes in the Google Keep app, you need to unlock your phone or tablet and then launch the app from the app drawer, the home screen, or use the widget.
  • Android 14 quietly added support for a “default notes app” and a lock screen shortcut to launch that app.
  • Google Keep is preparing to add support for being set as the default notes app, letting you quickly open Keep in a floating window from the lock screen.

Although the Pixel Tablet supports USI stylus input, Google doesn’t sell an official stylus accessory. A few months back, we spotted evidence that Google was working on a stylus for the Pixel Tablet, but that accessory has yet to hit the market. Perhaps the reason this accessory hasn’t been released yet is that the software isn’t ready, but that might not be true for much longer. We’ve already seen that Google is preparing to upgrade the Gboard app with stylus handwriting support, and now we’re seeing evidence that Google is preparing to upgrade Keep with a dedicated note-taking experience for a stylus.

One of the key features introduced in the Android 14 update is the ability to change the shortcuts on the lock screen. In previous versions of Android, you only had access to shortcuts for Device Controls and Wallet, but Android 14 adds shortcuts for Camera, Do Not Disturb, Mute, QR Code Scanner, Flashlight, and Video Call. A hidden ninth shortcut for “Note-taking” can also be added to the lock screen, but it doesn’t function unless you set an app as the designated “default notes app.”

In order to be eligible to be set as the default notes app, an app needs to meet two requirements in Android 14: It needs to target Android 14 and

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