MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—That Android TV dongle that showed up at the FCC last month is real, but it’s not for normal consumers. Google had a Chinese OEM build Android TV into a pretty awesome Chromecast form factor, but it’s only going to be used as a developer device—sales to general consumers aren’t going to happen.
The dongle has been drafted into service as the “ADT-2,” a developer-only Chromecast device. The specs are similar to the Amazon Fire TV 4K dongle or the Xiaomi Mi Box. It has an AMLogic 905X, 2GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. It’s just enough to get Android TV running and rendering 4K HDR.
The death of the Nexus Player left Android TV without a developer device. Every good Android platform needs a device that gets day-one updates from Google so that when Google releases a new software update, developers can actually use it on a device and make apps that support the new features.
The ADT-2 is taking on the role of a new developer device, but these devices also usually double as the consumer flagship of the Android platform. The ADT-2 is only available to developers, for free, via this lengthy Google Form. According to a report from Android Police, this device was created internally by the Android TV team as a test device, but, in order to become a consumer Google hardware product, Rick Osterloh’s Google hardware team would need to be involved.
The Chromecast-style dongle looks like a fantastic form factor for Android TV to adopt. If you want to wall mount a TV and still use the Android TV OS, the existing form factors are all bulky boxes that wouldn’t really work. There’s the JBL Link Bar, a soundbar with Android TV and the Google Assistant, but that still isn’t as appealing or flexible as a simple, cheap, easily hidden dongle that Android TV can on.