Android 12 Beta 3 launched for Pixel phones earlier today, and with it came a new beta update for Android TV as well. The previous Android TV 12 betas were a bit lackluster, but the latest beta brings some much-awaited features, making Android 12 the most exciting update to the Android TV platform in years. The most significant new features are the introduction of native 4K UI rendering and dynamic refresh rate switching.
While Android TV has always supported 4K content playback, Android 12 will be the first time that the UI itself will be rendered in 4K. Previously, the UI was rendered at 1080p maximum and then upscaled to fit your 4K TV. This should hopefully make the home screen interface, Settings, and other system surfaces look much sharper.
With dynamic refresh rate switching, Android TV now supports seamless and non-seamless refresh rate switching. Apps can integrate these settings for playback of content at optimal frame rates and can check whether a TV supports seamless frame rate switching. NVIDIA’s SHIELD TV has had its own version of this feature for a while now, but it’s nice to finally see it added at a platform-level for all Android TV devices to use.
Other new features were added, too, such as an updated “Tunnel Mode”, which Google says will make things “even easier for app developers to support consistent and efficient playback across devices by reducing media processing overhead in the Android Framework”. There are also improvements to how Android TV devices detect the TVs they’re plugged into, new microphone and camera indicators (which are also a part of the new privacy features for phones), and toggles to block the usage of microphone and camera globally. Lastly, Google is also extending device attestation support on Android TV to “support attestation of basic device properties“.
The Android 12 for Android TV Beta 3 update is available for ADT-3 developer dongles. In the announcement, Google also says that it can be tested in the upcoming Android 12 TV emulator (the Google TV emulator is still based on Android 11) so that app developers can prepare their apps to launch at higher resolutions. Google TV is based on Android TV and will incorporate most (if not all) of the features introduced here when Google TV based on Android 12 arrives for devices.