Android TV was launched in Australia five years ago and while initially regarded as slow and buggy and not as good as other options like Chromecast and Apple TV, it has improved significantly in the intervening period and has added features that now make it competitive in the Australian streaming TV market.

The most significant fact is that the Android TV operating system is now built in by a larger number of television set makers. Sony has provided it as its software of choice for streaming for some time but now TCL and Sharp have also recently added it; there is also the option of a set-top box for TVs that don’t provide it built-in.

One of the best features of Android TV is that it does everything that Chromecast offers: it has the Google cast feature built-in that allows you to beam content from a wide range of audio and video applications including Spotify, YouTube, Stan, Netflix and so on. In fact, users get all the benefits of Chromecast without the added expense of buying it or plugging another dongle into the back of their TV.

Another great feature is that Google Assistant is now built-in as well; it’s particularly useful since most people don’t have a mouse or keyboard attached to their TV. You can use it to search for video or sound content by speaking out the name of the content. You can also, for example, ask it to ‘Open Netflix’ without having to go through all the menu options via your TV remote.

It can also be used to install additional apps on your Android TV device from the Google store, which is also convenient and all the major apps are available such as the most popular for streaming music and video. All the other features of Google Assistant are also available so that you can ask for weather forecasts, check your Google calendar, check Gmail and so on.

There are a host of other Android TV benefits including support for plugging in a keyboard and a mouse, the ability to control smart home devices through apps and Google Assistant and having access to your live channels through the Android TV interface, to mention just a few.

While it has taken Android TV Australia a while to be competitive, it’s now good enough for the average user to be able to get to grips with it easily as well provide advanced features for more technical users. So much so that it is now a serious rival to Apple TV, and in some cases a better option.