The Google TV session is just a talk, not a lab. Based on a show of hands, it seems that the ratio of Android to web developers in the room is about three to one. It’s clear that this talk is much more focused on Android development for Google TV, which has not been possible for regular developers yet. And they aren’t going to announce any way to do it today. Guess that’s for one of the keynotes at Google IO this week. The Wednesday session on developing Android apps for Google TV is sure to tell how to deploy these apps.
Google TV isn’t intended to replace your cable connection; it’s to bring new content to your TV. (Of course, lots of people I know want to replace the cable connection for existing content, and I think that’s inevitable. But I guess Google doesn’t want to pick a fight with the entrenched providers. Yet.)
We’re not going to hear about the next version of Google TV, but there are allusions to it, and how it has taken the feedback from the first year to heart. The current Google TV is like the G1 Android phone – a first generation to prove what does and does not work.
So what’s different in developing for Google TV instead of mobile platforms? There’s no touch screen, but there is a mouse (or mouse-like device). There are only two important resolutions (1920 by 1080 and 1280 by 720), and only a landscape orientation. And large icons, controls, and especially, large font sizes work best. Don’t overload the users with too much information. Even though we will focus on developing Android apps for Google TV, the speakers emphasize that Web apps are very often an excellent choice there.
You develop Android apps for Google TV with the same tools as developing for mobile. You can configure the project parameters and emulators to have the same characteristics as a TV, using version 7 of the Android APIs and HDPI or XHDPI for screen resolution. The “abstracted density” they recommend is 231 dpi. The real density is much lower, but you view the screen from much further away so the density appears higher. And thanks to TV overscan (a holdover from CRTs) you probably won’t see the whole screen, losing perhaps 10% of the screen at the edges.