Allwinner Technology is giving an early look at Google’s latest Android software running on its chips.

The company says Android 5.0 Lollipop will be available for tablets with Allwinner A33 quad-core and Allwinner A80 octa-core processors. Allwinner has also demonstrated Android TV running on a device with an A80 chip.

atv

It’s not surprising that Google’s latest tablet and TV software can run on Allwinner’s chips. Google designs Android to be able to run across a wide range of devices.

What’ll be interesting to see is whether this means we’ll start to see Chinese device makers release inexpensive smart TV boxes with Google’s official Android TV software. We’ve seen hundreds of smart TV devices from companies such as Rikomagic, Tronsmart, and Minix in recent years, but they’ve usually shipped with the full smartphone/tablet version of Android and a custom user interface rather than a version of Android truly designed to run on televisions.

In some ways, the official Android TV software is actually less capable than the smartphone or tablet versions of the operating system. As I pointed out in my Google Nexus Player review, that’s because the Google Play Store will only show apps and games that have been verified to work with a remote control and TV interface.

This is a good thing in at least one way: it means you won’t end up installing apps that are difficult to use. It also means you won’t have to dig into settings and other menus designed for touchscreen devices when you’re using a TV and remote.

On the other hand, there are a relatively small number of Android TV-friendly apps available from the Play Store at the moment, so a device that runs Android instead of Android TV lets you install a wider range of apps… even if they don’t all work.

So now that Allwinner is showing that its chips are capable of running Android TV, I’ll be curious to see whether device makers actually choose to load that version of Google’s mobile operating system.

For now, I’ll probably continue using my TV-friendly Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick for most of my video streaming needs. But I do have a few more TV boxes with Rockchip and Allwinner processors and Android 4.4 KitKat software sitting on my test desk.

allwinner a5

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14 replies on “Allwinner shows Android 5.0, Android TV on its chips”

  1. I think Google is taking a more controlled approach with Android TV though. I think they are controlling the hardware as they do with Chromebooks and Android Wear so they can push updates themselves. At least that is what they said at I/O last year if memory serves.
    It’s an interesting strategy and has its benefits for sure. But it will inhibit uptake at the same pace that Android itself had.
    What I would like is for Google to allow any Android device running 5 or greater to be able to implement the ‘Android TV’ interface over hdmi output. That would be awesome. Sell little simple remotes to work with it. People would have flipped if the Nexus 9 came with hdmi out and a small remote and was capable of that trick.
    They should probably do both though it might create some market confusion I think they could overcome it easily enough and enjoy the benefits of both paths. Have an “Android TV Gold” product, which must use Google certified hardware and would get updates directly from Google. And then have regular “Android TV” and allow it to be used freely as Android has been. And have Android optionally provide it on all hdmi output as a choice. That would really help uptake I think.
    The only difference between the two products would be Google providing direct updates on certified “gold” devices.
    Most likely Google will not implement a scheme like that themselves. However it probably won’t be long until third party launches are available which achieve similar results. Would be better if Google did it, built in and from the ground up.

  2. Wonder if there is a open source compression code. It might make a nice video compressor.

    1. Google is way ahead of you. Look up VP9. They bought it, open sourced it, and have made the hardware codec freely available.

  3. Wonder if they will open source the decompression? XBMC aka Kodi said that Allwinner treated then very poorly.

  4. maybe a low cost Android TV box, interesting, the NExus player was pretty rough with the Atom chip in there, but the Tegra4 from the ADT-1 was great, maybe Android TV just works better on ARM

  5. Will you be able to run Kodi on it? Many people have Nas drives filled with movies they want to watch not just streaming content.

  6. Can you show a webcam using hangout? I’m about to get a Minix to setup a dedicated hangout box for the family.

  7. I am hoping to see MINIX upgrade their NEO X8-H firmware to include an Android TV interface, but not Android TV, so that it will be easier to stop looking for alternative launchers while keeping the full functionality offered by the devices.

    1. So what you mean is that you want someone to make an Android launcher that just imitates the look of Android TV?

      1. Yes; that’s what I’d like, since most current TV-oriented launchers are too much like the Windows “Metro” interface, but I like the interface of Android TV — especially if a custom launcher allows me to use different content sources to display, as opposed to Google Play Movies, etcetera.

    1. Allwinner and most other chinese ARM chipmaker dont have phone related technologies (3G 4G etc) in their SOC.

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