The add-on lets developers emulate Google TV devices and build apps optimized for larger screens. It also includes new APIs for TV-specific features and actions.
The Android Market's impending arrival on Google TV was announced at Google I/O in May, at which points a few clues had already surfaced suggesting that the feature was on its way. Google TV devices will support Android apps with the next release of the Honeycomb operating system.
One potential challenge for developers is going to be the difference in screen size and user interface requirements for a television set or screens as big as 10 feet. That's quite different than designing for phones, which are only a few inches wide and people tend to hold in their hands, rather than sitting across the room from it. Using this new SDK add-on, developers can get a preview of what their apps would look like on bigger screens and adjust them accordingly.
Not all Android apps will find their way onto Google TV. In a blog post announcing the new add-on, Google TV Product Manager Ambarish Kenghe explained that "apps that require features not supported on Google TV won't appear in Android Market on Google TV." That is, if an app requires touchscreen capability in order to function, it can't appear on Google TV, since the televisions don't have touchscreens. Google's documentation lists the features that are and are not supported.
The first Google TV-powered set top box was released last year, but has not been wildly successful, due in to issues with its user interface, a lack of cooperation with some content providers and, at $300, a relatively high initial price point.
Bringing the Honeycomb UI and Android Market to Google TV is one major step the company is taking in hopes of revitalizing the product.
Do you think this is a step in the right direction for Google TV or has that ship sunk? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.