Introduction to Android TV app development on React Native

Let us guess, even if you don’t watch boring news and silly shows, you still probably have a TV, because it’s 2020, and everyone has a TV at home. Alongside mobile apps, TVs have operational systems, and Android TV is one of them. There are many articles covering Android TV app development from a coder’s point of view, but none of them were made for startupers.

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Android TV app Development
Table of contents

    At Purrweb we have decided to create a detailed guide and tell you everything you should know to execute a robust Android TV app on React Native if you are a startuper and don’t speak developer language. Dive into the world of Android TV app development to learn about its differences from mobile apps, design requirements, functionality, costs, and timeframes. Enjoy!

    What is Android TV exactly?

    Nowadays, technology has undoubtedly evolved to the point where you can not only watch news channels but also download apps to your TV, stream music, play games, and watch Netflix all in one. Smart TV technology connected TVs with the internet and opened Pandora’s box, and a new big niche was carved out on the app development market for startupers.

    Android TV app Development

    In 2014 Google launched Android TV, an operational system for TV sets, digital media players, set-top boxes, and soundbars. It is integrated into Smart TV hardware, like ones produced by SONY, Philips, or LG. The release has boosted the Android TV app development segment.

    Millions of potential users

    In 2020 TVs are as common as smartphones. According to recent statistics, 58% of American TV users are connected to a Smart TV, which means slightly more than 109 million people that you could potentially reach with your app. On an average day, American adults spend than 4 hours watching TV. The same numbers could be seen in the UK – exactly 73% of respondents have a Smart TV in their household, while countries like Germany, Sweden, Denmark are not far behind.

    Android TV is a promising new market that has a great deal of room for creativity. You can build a streaming app, a meditation app, a game, or any other solution you want. Smart TV development and mobile app development are not that similar as they might look, so there are few things you should consider beforehand.

    Design and functionality considerations

    Just like smartphones, Android TV technology requires a certain level of engagement, therefore it enhances user experience. But the way people interact with TVs is certainly different from mobile solutions. Here are 5 things you should consider before planning your app.

    Layout and size 

    First of all, TV apps have different screens and a greater distance between the user and the device. Imagine, when we watch TV, we usually sit on the couch around 6 feet or 1,5 meters away from the screen. So all fonts, icons, and other elements should be bigger than on a phone screen. Secondly, Android TV apps have a landscape layout which should be considered when prototyping navigation and arranging elements.

    Android TV app DevelopmentAndroid TV apps use a horizontal screen layout. 

    Remote control 

    No one wants to get up everytime they need to turn the volume up or switch an app. That’s why we recommend thinking about adding touch or voice inputs into your solution.

    Search functionality and navigation 

    Users spend all day with a smartphone in their hand and get used to horizontal orientation. Landscape layout and big screen size already make things more complicated for our brain to focus, so you better keep everything else simple. The app should be intuitive and easy-to-navigate. For example, make sure users always know on what page they are at the moment, which element is selected, and how to get one step back. 

    Content suggestions

    Consider adding this feature to increase engagement. The more content people have to watch, the longer they stay in the app.

    Thorough QA testing in a real device

    Make sure you test the solution on-the-go alongside Android TV app development to find and close all potential bugs and make sure the app is cutting-edge before its release.

    How to find a contractor for Android TV app

    Smart TV is a relatively new technology that requires a deep understanding of a user’s behavior and tech expertise. So, when you look for a developer to build Android TV app, overview their experience, portfolio, and reviews from previous customers.

    Another tip from us is to work with a company rather than with a freelance developer. Android TV app development includes several concurrent steps – UX/UI design, APIs, testing, and project management – and it’s better when they are performed by one team with established communication rather than separate outsourcers.

    Is React Native good for Android TV app development?

    Android TV app Development

    Long story short, yes. Android TV app development and React Native framework get along well. Creating the app with React has 4 key benefits for startup owners — cross-platform development, native-like elements, high performance, and community support.

    1. It is cross-platform

    The framework has a shared codebase for different operational systems and a bridge to invoke the rendering. Basically, it means that you can write one React Native component for the Android TV app, and it will smoothly and seamlessly work on other Smart TV devices. The feature makes the development process faster (and cheaper, since it is usually hourly-paid). Plus, in the future, you can quickly turn the app into an Apple TV app with no headache, and multiply your audience.

    2. Native-like performance

    React Native uses native APIs, so the app will render native components and scroll or tap like a native one, while the development process will be more time-effective than the native development.

    3. Great productivity

    The framework interacts with native components through the bridge, so the performance is fast and smooth. It helps you focus on the testing and UX/UI instead of performance optimization. Also, React Native has a Hot Reload feature that allows it to discover, trace, and close bugs in real time, all without rewriting the whole code. 

    4. Community support

    React Native is an extremely popular framework among developers from all over the world. There is a vast supportive community that will have your back and help with any challenge that pops up while developing.

    Costs and timelines

    We know how important budgeting at an early stage is, so we’ve got you covered. Here we are sharing how much it costs to create Android TV app on average and how long the process takes.

    At Purrweb we usually start with creating MVPs that stand for minimum viable products. It is the first fully-functioning version of your solutions that you can use for testing the idea, collecting feedback, and raising funds. We have costs and time limits for the MVP – $30 000 and 3 months to market coordinatively. Meaning, that in 3 months after our first meeting you will have a ready high-quality product to work with.

    Click here to get the estimation of your future app for Android TV!

    Let’s wrap it up!

    Nowadays Smart TVs are as popular as smartphones, and Android TV app development is a relatively new dynamic market for startupers. There are 109 million people that you could potentially reach with your app only in the U.S, not mentioning other countries like the UK, Germany, or Russia. 

    However, the development process for an Android TV app is different from mobile devices. First of all, it has a horizontal orientation instead of the vertical one that we are so used to on our phones. At the end of the day, after watching Instagram Stories and TikToks, our brain and focus might find it difficult to switch from vertical to the TV horizontal layout. Secondly, the distance between the user and the screen is greater. Overall, the way people interact with Android TV apps is different from the regular mobile app, and this fact requires studying and considering the user’s experience to build a reliable, friendly solution.

    Here are 5 key considerations when you are about to build Android TV app:

    Android TV app Development

    At Purrweb, we perform Android TV app development with the focus on UX/UI design and QA testing to build a robust cutting-edge solution. We have a blog where we openly share our experience and a portfolio with previous works where you can check our style. Plus, we work with cost- and time-efficient React Native that helps us develop high-performing Android TV apps in 3 months.

    For Android TV app MVPs, we offer a $40 000 cost limit and 3 months time-to-market.

    Read more about services we provide and schedule a free consultation to chat about your idea and see how we can help.

    With 250 startups under our belt, we’re happy to share the takeaways. Get our MVP launch checklist in your email.