Handle TV hardware

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TV hardware is substantially different from other Android devices. TVs do not include some of the hardware features found on other Android devices, such as touchscreens, cameras, and GPS receivers. TVs are also completely dependent on secondary hardware devices: for users to interact with TV apps, they must use a remote control or game pad. When you build an app for TV, you must carefully consider the hardware limitations and requirements of operating on TV hardware.

This guide shows how to check whether your app is running on a TV and how to handle unsupported hardware features. To learn about various input methods, see Manage TV controllers.

Check for a TV device

If you are building an app that operates on both TV devices and other devices, you might need to check what kind of device your app is running on and adjust the operation of your app. For instance, if you have an app that can be started through an Intent, check the device properties to determine whether to start a TV-oriented activity or a phone activity.

The recommended way to determine whether your app is running on a TV device is to use the PackageManager.hasSystemFeature() method to check whether the device is running in television mode. The following example code shows you how to check whether your app is running on a TV device:

Kotlin

const val TAG = "DeviceTypeRuntimeCheck"

val isTelevision = packageManager.hasSystemFeature(PackageManager.FEATURE_LEANBACK)
if (isTelevision) {
    Log.d(TAG, "Running on a TV Device")
} else {
    Log.d(TAG, "Running on a non-TV Device")
}

Java

public static final String TAG = "DeviceTypeRuntimeCheck";

boolean isTelevision = getPackageManager().hasSystemFeature(PackageManager.FEATURE_LEANBACK);
if (isTelevision) {
    Log.d(TAG, "Running on a TV Device");
} else {
    Log.d(TAG, "Running on a non-TV Device");
}

Handle unsupported hardware features

Depending on the design and functionality of your app, you might be able to work around certain hardware features being unavailable. This section discusses what hardware features are typically not available for TV, how to detect missing hardware features, and what alternatives are suggested to these features.

Unsupported TV hardware features

TVs have a different purpose from other devices, so they do not have hardware features that other Android-powered devices often have. For this reason, the Android system does not support the following features for a TV device:

Hardware Android feature descriptor
Touchscreen android.hardware.touchscreen
Touchscreen emulator android.hardware.faketouch
Telephony android.hardware.telephony
Camera android.hardware.camera
Near Field Communications (NFC) android.hardware.nfc
GPS android.hardware.location.gps
Microphone android.hardware.microphone
Sensors android.hardware.sensor
Screen in portrait orientation android.hardware.screen.portrait

Note: Some TV controllers have a microphone, which is not the same as the microphone hardware feature described here. The controller microphone is fully supported.

See the Features reference for a complete list of features, subfeatures, and their descriptors.

Declare hardware requirements for TV

Android apps can declare hardware feature requirements in the app manifest to help ensure that they aren't installed on devices that don't provide those features. If you are extending an existing app for use on TV, closely review your app's manifest for any hardware requirement declarations that might prevent it from being installed on a TV device.

If your app uses hardware features like a touchscreen or camera that are not available on TV, but it can operate without the use of those features, modify your app's manifest to indicate that these features are not required. The following manifest code snippet demonstrates how to declare that your app does not require hardware features that are unavailable on TV devices but uses those features on non-TV devices:

<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.touchscreen"
        android:required="false"/>
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.faketouch"
        android:required="false"/>
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.telephony"
        android:required="false"/>
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.camera"
        android:required="false"/>
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.nfc"
        android:required="false"/>
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.location.gps"
        android:required="false"/>
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.microphone"
        android:required="false"/>
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.sensor"
        android:required="false"/>
<!-- Some TV devices have an ethernet connection only -->
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.wifi"
        android:required="false"/>

Note: Some features have subfeatures, like android.hardware.camera.front, as described in the Feature reference. Be sure to mark any subfeatures also used in your app as required="false".

All apps intended for use on TV devices must declare that the touchscreen feature is not required, as described in Get started with TV apps. If your app normally uses one or more of the features not supported by TV devices, change the android:required attribute setting to false for those features in your manifest.

Caution: Declaring a hardware feature as required by setting its value to true prevents your app from being installed on TV devices or appearing in the Android TV home screen launcher.

Be aware of permissions that imply hardware features

Some uses-permission manifest declarations imply hardware features. This behavior means that requesting some permissions in your app manifest can exclude your app from from being installed and used on TV devices. The following commonly requested permissions create an implicit hardware feature requirement:

Permission Implied hardware feature
RECORD_AUDIO android.hardware.microphone
CAMERA android.hardware.camera and
android.hardware.camera.autofocus
ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION

android.hardware.location

android.hardware.location.network (target API level 20 or lower only)

ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION

android.hardware.location

android.hardware.location.gps (target API level 20 or lower only)

ACCESS_WIFI_STATE
CHANGE_WIFI_STATE

android.hardware.wifi

Some TV devices have an ethernet connection only.

For a complete list of permission requests that imply a hardware feature requirement, see the uses-feature guide. If your app requests one of the features previously listed, include a uses-feature declaration in your manifest for the implied hardware feature that indicates it is not required. android:required="false".

Note: If your app targets Android 5.0 (API level 21) or higher and uses the ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION or ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION permission, users can still install your app on a TV device, even if the TV device doesn't have a network card or a GPS receiver.

After you make hardware features optional for your app, you must check for the availability of those features at runtime and then adjust your app's behavior. The next section discusses how to check for hardware features and suggests some approaches for changing the behavior of your app.

For more information on filtering and declaring features in the manifest, see the uses-feature guide.

Check for hardware features

The Android framework can tell you if hardware features are not available on the device where your app is running. Use the hasSystemFeature(String) method to check for specific features at runtime. This method takes a single string argument that specifies the feature you want to check.

The following code example demonstrates how to detect the availability of hardware features at runtime:

Kotlin

// Check whether the telephony hardware feature is available.
if (packageManager.hasSystemFeature(PackageManager.FEATURE_TELEPHONY)) {
    Log.d("HardwareFeatureTest", "Device can make phone calls")
}

// Check whether android.hardware.touchscreen feature is available.
if (packageManager.hasSystemFeature(PackageManager.FEATURE_TOUCHSCREEN)) {
    Log.d("HardwareFeatureTest", "Device has a touchscreen.")
}

Java

// Check whether the telephony hardware feature is available.
if (getPackageManager().hasSystemFeature(PackageManager.FEATURE_TELEPHONY)) {
    Log.d("HardwareFeatureTest", "Device can make phone calls");
}

// Check whether android.hardware.touchscreen feature is available.
if (getPackageManager().hasSystemFeature(PackageManager.FEATURE_TOUCHSCREEN)) {
    Log.d("HardwareFeatureTest", "Device has a touchscreen.");
}

Touchscreen

Since most TVs do not have touchscreens, Android does not support touchscreen interaction for TV devices. Furthermore, using a touchscreen is not consistent with a viewing environment where the user is seated 10 feet away from the display. Make sure that your UI elements and text do not require or imply the use of a touchscreen.

For TV devices, design your app to support navigation using a directional pad (D-pad) on a TV remote control. For more information on properly supporting navigation using TV-friendly controls, see TV navigation.

Camera

Although a TV typically does not have a camera, you can still provide a photography-related app on a TV. For example, if you have an app that takes, views, and edits photos, you can disable its picture-taking functionality for TVs and still let users view and even edit photos. If you decide to enable your camera-related app to work on a TV, add the following feature declaration your app manifest:

<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.camera" android:required="false" />

If you enable your app to run without a camera, add code to your app that detects whether the camera feature is available and makes adjustments to the operation of your app. The following code example demonstrates how to detect the presence of a camera:

Kotlin

// Check whether the camera hardware feature is available.
if (packageManager.hasSystemFeature(PackageManager.FEATURE_CAMERA)) {
    Log.d("Camera test", "Camera available!")
} else {
    Log.d("Camera test", "No camera available. View and edit features only.")
}

Java

// Check whether the camera hardware feature is available.
if (getPackageManager().hasSystemFeature(PackageManager.FEATURE_CAMERA)) {
    Log.d("Camera test", "Camera available!");
} else {
    Log.d("Camera test", "No camera available. View and edit features only.");
}

GPS

TVs are stationary, indoor devices and do not have built-in global positioning system (GPS) receivers. If your app uses location information, you can still let users search for a location or use a static location provider such as a postal code configured during the TV device setup.

Kotlin

// Request a static location from the location manager.
val locationManager = this.getSystemService(Context.LOCATION_SERVICE) as LocationManager
val location: Location = locationManager.getLastKnownLocation("static")

// Attempt to get postal code from the static location object.
val geocoder = Geocoder(this)
val address: Address? =
        try {
            geocoder.getFromLocation(location.latitude, location.longitude, 1)[0]
                    .apply {
                        Log.d(TAG, postalCode)
                    }
        } catch (e: IOException) {
            Log.e(TAG, "Geocoder error", e)
            null
        }

Java

// Request a static location from the location manager.
LocationManager locationManager = (LocationManager) this.getSystemService(
        Context.LOCATION_SERVICE);
Location location = locationManager.getLastKnownLocation("static");

// Attempt to get postal code from the static location object.
Geocoder geocoder = new Geocoder(this);
Address address = null;
try {
  address = geocoder.getFromLocation(location.getLatitude(),
          location.getLongitude(), 1).get(0);
  Log.d("Postal code", address.getPostalCode());

} catch (IOException e) {
  Log.e(TAG, "Geocoder error", e);
}

Pause playback during low-power mode

Some TV devices support a low-power mode when the user switches the device off. Instead of shutting down, the device disables the display and keeps Android TV running in the background. Audio output is still enabled in this mode, so stop any currently playing content when the device is in low-power mode.

To avoid playback during low-power mode, override onStop() and stop any currently playing content:

Kotlin

override fun onStop() {
    // App-specific method to stop playback.
    stopPlayback()
    super.onStop()
}

Java

@Override
public void onStop() {
  // App-specific method to stop playback.
  stopPlayback();
  super.onStop();
}

When the user switches the power back on, onStart() is called if your app is the active foreground app. For more information on starting and stopping an activity, see The activity lifecycle.