TVs have traditionally been seen and treated more like fixed and static appliances in our homes, never changing from the day they were bought until they finally die completely. Smart TVs, however, have changed that and added an element of flexibility and longevity beyond what the devices initially offered when purchased. That said, these smart TVs also started exhibiting the problems that smartphones, leaving users to wonder when or even if their TVs will get major software updates and until when.
As expected, TCL made a big splash at the virtual CES 2021 last week with a bunch of displays, including rollable ones, and TV sets. Some of the latter boasted smart functionality, courtesy of Android TV. Of course, Google has recently muddled the branding a bit when it introduced Google TV and that has sparked some questions about the fate of the company’s slightly older but still very much supported Android TV products.
New TCL 2021 TVs, particularly those in Europe will either come with Google TV already pre-installed or will be upgraded after the fact. Unfortunately, those hailing from 2019 or even just 2020 won’t get the same treatment. They will, instead, be upgraded to plain old Android TV based on Android 11 only.
Not that Android TV’s Android 11 update is a small one by any measure, as it adds support for Android’s instant apps as well as a new Gboard TV keyboard with speech-to-text functionality. Google TV is pretty much Google’s special skin for Android TV, the same way it has a special Android UX on Pixel phones on top of stock Android.
Still, moving forward, you can expect Google to market Google TV more than Android TV. For better or worse, we can expect this confusion to eventually spread to other Android TV models as well, especially as Google pushes its brand on more devices. In the meantime, owners of 2019 and 2020 TCL Android TVs will have to wait until the third quarter to even get this promised update and, by then, Android 12 might already be ready for release.