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Google launches app that will bring live channels to Android TV

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Google today released an app that will eventually allow Android TV devices to watch live television. The app, plainly named "Live Channels for Android TV," appeared on Google Play today with no word or any announcement from Google. Maybe that's not surprising, as you can't install it on any current phone or tablet running Google's OS. As the boring name shows, this app is clearly meant for the living room variant of Android, and right now the flawed Nexus Player set-top box is your only way in. But more devices are undoubtedly on the way.

Live Channels for Android won't suddenly let you tune into network TV without the necessary hardware, though. Google says it can display input from a built-in tuner (we haven't yet seen an Android TV device with its own dedicated tuner), IP-based tuners, and more. But once you've got a signal, the app will offer standard TV features like picture-in-picture, closed captioning, and some level of parental controls, according to the screenshots. There also looks to be a split view that offers a larger look at two channels simultaneously.

Android TV is Google's latest attempt to carve out a spot in consumer living rooms. And while it's off to a promising start, the key problem it faces right now is content and growing its app ecosystem. Supporting live TV won't solve that problem, but it checks off an important box — even if Google's first version of the app is limited to the bare essentials. There's plenty of work to be done, but it's good to see Google moving along to iron out the early holes in Android TV.

Android TV