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Report: Android TV remote control app will transform your phone into a gamepad

Derek Walter | March 28, 2016
This could be a boon for multiplayer gaming on Android TV, as everyone will only need a smartphone to get in on the action.

Google is determined to make Android TV into a viable gaming platform. Easy access to a gamepad is one way to do that, and it appears the company wants to put one right on your smartphone.

According to an APK teardown by Android Police, an upcoming update in the Android TV remote control app will allow you to transform it into a gamepad. While you can’t beat physical buttons when playing a console game, it would at least make it easy to have friends over and play without the need to pony up for a bunch of controllers. 

This would especially be more viable with a platform like Android TV, which generally has more casual games geared toward shorter bursts of playtime.

The teardown also found icons for three different modes: a D-Pad, trackpad, and gamepad. There’s also code that indicates use of a phone’s accelerometer, which would allow you to tilt-steer during racing games.

A couple of other snippets include a new volume control for voice response and support for TVs with sleep mode. 

The code is from the March 1 update to the Android TV app, but there’s no indication of when such functionality may go live. So if you have an Android TV setup, be on the lookout for this.

Why this matters: Android TV hasn’t exactly taken off when you compare it to something like Apple TV, but Google’s strategy is more about getting the software inside smart TVs. Gaming has also been a focus, though it’s been better executed with set-top boxes like the Nvidia Shield. Virtual gamepads on phones are often subpar, but it could expand the pool of players for certain types of games.


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