When you bought your TV, did you ever wonder what operating system it has? After all, a modern TV is not a screen for showing video received from the antenna; first, it is a device that can show video through HDMI ports or receive video over the Internet. The TV is also integrated into the smart home system and can be controlled by voice commands. How it interacts with the user depends on the operating system.
There are no more than ten popular operating systems that you can find on TVs, and here is the list of operating systems.
|My Home Screen
Bang & Olufsen
Smart TV OS Android TV
Google’s Android TV operating system is significant in the smart TV market. The platform has been optimized for TV screens and built on the same kernel as Android mobile devices. Since its introduction in 2014, Google has followed a licensing strategy to facilitate the proliferation of Android TV in the smart TV market. The primary beneficiaries of this policy have been large original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), which account for more than half of the global TV production. In addition, the platform has gained the support of app developers due to its unified app structure that ensures compatibility with different brands of TVs.
However, integrating Android TV into OEM devices has its challenges. Customizing the OS for specific hardware configurations – audio decoders, WiFi modules, and HDMI ports – is critical for optimal performance. Without thorough debugging and testing, users may experience various performance issues, including system freezes, loss of image quality, audio distortion, or brilliant platform feature failures.
Benefits and features:
- App diversity: Access to the Google Play Store opens up a vast landscape of apps and games, enriching the TV experience.
- Content diversity: With heavyweights like Google, YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime developing dedicated apps and streaming services, the platform promises a rich content repository.
- Voice Control: Integrating voice control capabilities with Google Assistant and Alexa enhances user interaction with seamless navigation and command execution.
Android TV’s strategic position in the market, especially among budget brands, underscores its appeal as a versatile and user-centric platform.
If you are interested in the release years of Android TV versions, read the article “Android TV OS by Year.“
Smart TV OS GoogleTV
The Google TV platform has evolved significantly, marked by two different incarnations. The first iteration of Google TV, originally released as an independent operating system, pioneered the smart TV arena until 2013. This early version focused on integrating the internet and web applications with TV viewing, laying the groundwork for future smart TV technology. However, with the emergence and subsequent dominance of Android in the ecosystems of various devices, the original Google TV OS was scrapped in favor of a more robust and versatile platform.
In 2021, Google unveiled a new iteration of Google TV, not as a standalone operating system but as an improved interface layer on top of Android TV. This development aimed to improve the user experience by integrating more tightly and cohesively with Google’s ecosystem. By logging into their Google account on the smart TV, users could sync their smartphone’s apps and preferences directly with the TV, simplifying content access and personalization.
Major TV manufacturers such as Philips, Sony, and Hisense have welcomed the decision to revive the Google TV name. They have moved to the revamped Google TV platform due to its improved user interface and easy connection to the ecosystem.
Smart TV OS Tizen (Samsung)
The Tizen OS, developed by Samsung for its smart TVs, is good. Tizen was initially conceived as a mobile operating system, but the growing dominance of Android in the smartphone market made it non-competitive in smartphones. Samsung strategically repurposed Tizen for use in its smart TV lineup, which leveraged the existing technology foundation and developments in the OS.
Tizen is an extension of the Samsung Legacy Platform OS, Samsung’s first OS for smart TVs.
In the smart TV market, Tizen OS stands out for several reasons. Despite lacking the extensive app ecosystem characteristic of Android, Tizen guarantees a high quality of available apps, particularly apps from streaming services. This approach to app availability is ensured through a rigorous testing process involving developers, customers, and Samsung itself before apps are released. It is always good when the same company develops both OS and hardware, as such products are usually quite good.
Smart TV OS WebOS (LG)
The transition from NetCast to webOS marked a significant evolution in LG’s approach to Smart TV functionality. NetCast, LG’s first smart TV development, laid the groundwork but lacked the extensive Smart features that today’s users expect. Recognizing the need for a more advanced and versatile platform, LG moved to webOS, which turned the tide on smart TVs.
Initially developed for mobile devices, WebOS was not created by LG. Instead, it was acquired from Hewlett-Packard in March 2013. At its development, webOS was positioned as a competitor to Android in the mobile operating system field. However, like many others, it was overshadowed by Android’s dominant market presence. LG’s acquisition of webOS signaled a strategic reorientation, adapting it for the growing smart TV market.
The move to webOS has played an essential role in LG’s sustainable position in the smart TV sector. The platform is viral among developers due to LG’s significant TV market share. In addition, LG has expanded the webOS ecosystem by partnering with exclusive TV manufacturers such as Bang & Olufsen. LG supplies hardware and software for Bang & Olufsen TVs.
Several key features characterize WebOS:
- Stability and speed: the operating system is known for its stability and fast performance, enhanced by LG’s investment in high-quality hardware.
- Application support: webOS supports a wide range of popular applications, giving users access to a rich selection of content and services.
- Voice Assistant Integration: The platform is compatible with various voice assistants, allowing users to navigate, control, and interact with their TVs using voice commands.
Smart TV OS FireTV
Amazon Fire TV OS is an operating system developed by Amazon for its streaming devices and smart TVs. Based on Android, this OS differs significantly in user interface design. Since its inception, Amazon Fire TV OS has been designed to provide direct access to a wide range of streaming platforms, responding to today’s audiences’ changing entertainment consumption patterns.
Throughout its existence, the Fire TV OS has undergone many enhancements, evolving through several versions to improve the user experience and functionality of the system. The article “Amazon Fire TV OS by Year ” outlines the trajectory of the platform’s development and functionality expansion and provides a detailed analysis of these iterations.
The initial adoption of the Fire TV OS was driven by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) tasked with producing Amazon-branded devices. These companies also used the OS for their TVs on the same production lines. This strategy has helped Fire TV OS penetrate a broad market, resulting in its use by well-known TV manufacturers such as Panasonic, indicating its growing appeal.
Key benefits of Amazon Fire TV OS include:
- Comprehensive integration of streaming services: Central to its design is providing access to a wide range of streaming services, providing users with a wide range of content choices.
- Amazon account sync: The OS offers seamless sync with Amazon accounts, allowing for personalized viewing based on individual preferences and viewing history.
- Voice Assistant Support: A distinctive feature of the Fire TV OS is its integration with voice assistants, particularly Alexa. This enables voice control of navigation, search, and control of smart home devices, offering users an intuitive, hands-free interface.
Smart TV OS Roku TV
The Roku TV operating system, released in 2014, quickly stood out thanks to a strategic approach that contributed significantly to its widespread adoption and popularity. Roku took a proactive stance, unlike other platforms that waited for streaming apps to be developed and deployed by the services themselves. The company’s programmers provided hands-on assistance to application developers, facilitating the creation and integration of applications on the Roku platform. The combined effort provided greater access to streaming services, many previously unavailable on competing devices. This unique policy increased the platform’s value and directly responded to consumer demands for broader and more comprehensive access to streaming.
Roku’s innovative approach extended to the introduction of private channels. Conceived initially as test channels for developers, this feature allowed content to be streamed through the platform, greatly enriching the Roku ecosystem. However, as Roku OS grew in popularity, the openness of private channels led to instances of copyright infringement. In response to these problems, Roku made a pivotal change in 2022, abandoning the practice of private channels. Instead, the company introduced a beta channel platform designed for developers to test new channels. This new system, which limited the number of users and the lifespan of channels to no more than four months, was implemented to address copyright issues effectively.
Roku’s licensing strategy contributed to the platform’s continued success. By offering its operating system to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on favorable terms, Roku ensured that its OS was integrated into a wide range of TV sets. This accessibility, Roku’s user-friendly interface, and colossal channel selection, including many local channels, solidified Roku TV’s position as the leading choice for consumers seeking an easy-to-navigate and content-rich TV experience.
Smart TV OS VIDAA
Hisense recognized as one of the world’s leading TV manufacturers and a key supplier of TVs to other brands, has begun developing its own ViDAA operating system. This strategic move follows the path of industry giants like Samsung with Tizen and LG with webOS, emphasizing Hisense’s ambition to establish itself as a dominant force in the TV manufacturing arena. The introduction of ViDAA demonstrates Hisense’s commitment to producing hardware and shaping software.
Despite the presence of ViDAA, Hisense continues to offer TVs equipped with Android, Google, and Amazon Fire TV. This diversified approach allows Hisense to cater to various consumer preferences. Still, positioning its own OS in the market could dilute the brand identity.
ViDAA’s expansion is facilitated by Hisense’s scale of operations and its ownership of several TV brands, including Toshiba, which allows it to promote and integrate the OS effectively across multiple platforms. This broad OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) base provides a significant advantage in expanding ViDAA’s presence in the competitive smart TV market.
The attractiveness of ViDAA is not so much due to the knowledge of users about it, although let’s say the OS is not bad, but more due to the recognizability of the Hisense brand and the cost of the TV.
Smart TV OS My Home Screen (Firefox OS)
The My Home Screen operating system used by Panasonic for its smart TVs originates in Firefox OS, initially developed by Mozilla for smartphones. Firefox OS was an ambitious project to create an open-source, web-based operating system, but it needed to make more headway against the dominant Android platform. In 2016, Mozilla announced that it was ceasing the development of Firefox OS for smartphones, leaving the platform’s future in the hands of the community and individual contributors to the project, who could continue its development through various forks.
Panasonic took the opportunity to tailor Firefox OS to its unique requirements and rebranded it as My Home Screen for use in its televisions. This move aimed to create a unique smart TV that would capitalize on the web-centric nature of the original Firefox OS. However, this strategic decision ran into difficulties. My Home Screen failed to attract a broad user base and did not become the preferred platform for developing streaming service applications. My Home Screen’s appeal was further limited by Panasonic’s shrinking presence in key markets, as evidenced by the company’s withdrawal from the US market in 2017 and the Canadian market in 2020.
Recognizing these challenges and the need to offer a more compelling smart TV experience, Panasonic decided to change its strategy. It is reported that Panasonic will start releasing TVs with Amazon’s Fire OS in 2024. The move to Fire OS recognizes the importance of giving users access to a robust, widely supported platform with rich content and applications, including seamless integration with Amazon’s vast ecosystem of services and Alexa-based voice control capabilities.
Smart TV OS Vizio SmartCast
Vizio, a significant player in the US TV market, introduced its own SmartCast operating system in 2016, aiming to carve a distinct niche in the competitive smart TV landscape. Anticipating widespread adoption, Vizio sought to differentiate its platform by incorporating various applications and expanding the content available to users. Company executives have even stated their intention to license their operating system to other TV manufacturers, indicating a desire to expand their influence beyond their product line.
Despite these efforts, Vizio has faced challenges maintaining a competitive edge over other brands. A manufacturing strategy that involves outsourcing TV production to OEMs makes it challenging to introduce its OS. The situation is exacerbated because the market is increasingly saturated with smart TVs, often equipped with better-known or generic operating systems such as Android TV, Roku TV, and others that offer extensive ecosystems of apps and features.
In 2023, Vizio’s problems manifested more specifically, with the company releasing just two new TV models and re-advertising some of the previous year’s models as new – a strategy that could indicate difficulty maintaining innovation or falling behind competitors. This approach could impact Vizio’s market presence and consumer perception of its products, suggesting that the popularity of Vizio’s TVs may decline over time.