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Android TV can soon turn phones into game controllers

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Google sells a very traditional controller for those who want to play games on an Android TV, but soon, you may not need to buy one. Google is rolling out a new set of tools for developers that includes the ability to turn nearby Android phones into custom controllers. That'll allow developers to customize what's on a phone's screen to suit the needs of their game — in a video, Google demonstrates a racing game that's added a speedometer, a tachometer, and a dedicated boost button in addition to gas and brake pedals. Even if a joystick and physical buttons are usually a better way to game, it's still a nice way to enhance the experience. It also makes the investment to start gaming smaller for those who already own an Android phone.

The other tools that Google is announcing today are largely ad related. They allow developers to insert customized Google ads into their games and specifically target in-app purchases to the people who Google predicts will be most receptive. Another tool allows developers to create customized experiences for different groups of users, though it's not clear if that'll be a custom ad experience or a custom gaming experience. Certainly, these are the less exciting updates for gamers, but they should make for nicer ad placements inside of free-to-play games.