Android STB vs. Linux STB

Hospitality TV IPTV box

Android STB? Linux STB? IPTV solutions has seen variety of platforms become the home of their client applications. Android, iOS, Linux, MacOS, Windows, Tizen and even HTML5 are suitable for hosting client apps. But for various reasons, Android is the sure leader among platforms chosen to be the operating system for set top boxes at IPTV solutions. Other operating systems such as Linux or iOS are also an option, but Android is the preferred platform for many reasons.

Android is currently the mainstream platform for embedded systems and has a lot of advantages. Apart from being supported by the global community of hardware vendors and software developers, this operating system features an entire range of advantages that outperform other platforms in the consumer segment.

UI

Interaction with client device defines how successful implementation of a certain service will be from a user perspective. Rich capabilities for rendering GUI elements along with swift reactions to user commands are key to user satisfaction. Android STB has accomplished a lot in this regard and provides continuous development for constant improvement of these important elements of the Android operating system. See Fig.1 for statistics on the latest GL instructions support by Android devices at the hardware level, meaning the majority provide excellent GUI rendering capabilities.

Android STB

Figure 1. Most Android devices support the latest OpenGL ES versions

UX

Today, Android is deployed on more than 2 billion devices, half of which use the latest Lollipop and Marshmallow versions. It is a clear indication that Android really satisfies the masses, is easily updated and is appreciated by users. User experience is taken care of at all levels, from including APIs to the system that helps integrate app functions to deep optimisation of core system processes to work flawlessly on all varieties of hardware used by vendors for their devices.

Developer friendly

Android STB offers a rich set of integration features by default and supports a plethora of protocols and standards. At the same time, it is a system well supported by the global network of organisations, institutions and developer teams who enjoy Android SDK and write Java, C and C++ apps with astonishing functionality. Fig. 2 shows that most devices have updated Android versions installed, which means the security, UX and functionality of the Android platform widely used in embedded systems and mobile devices across the world is in very good shape and corresponds to current expectations of users and developers.

Android STB
Figure 2. Most Android devices run the latest Android 5, 6 and 7 versions.
Linux, on the other hand, is believed to be the root of Android, with a consequential incorrect belief that Linux is a better choice. No doubt, Linux shows great results when a set of libraries and modules is well fit to the kernel version and hardware. But let’s be honest, the resources required for creating and supporting the tremendous amount of custom code are not only expensive but can never beat the speed at which updates for Android are released. Clear enough, what’s included in the latest Android version by default and available right from the box, might be achieved by a team of developers on Linux at the cost of impractical amounts of resources and then not necessarily achieve the same results as could be achieved much easier on Android.

DRM on Android STB and Linux STB

Several DRM solutions are available on many platforms, with some having preferences imposed by DRM vendors. For example, Widevine DRM is a Google product that has certain optimisation for smooth playback of secured content on devices running Android. Verimatrix, with its VCAS DRM, also performs well on Android, with its expandable DRM framework embedded in the system and even using specific hardware features of some devices to achieve better performance. Linux is also supported by major DRM systems, with a slightly more specific process of integration that could affect performance of video playback and client device approval from the content owner based on how securely the software layer interacts with the hardware itself.

Studying the market data, statistics and customer feedback, it is clear that Android is the preferred platform for deployment of DRM. Vendors will support more popular OS, especially Google, with their Widevine DRM system optimised for Android even at the hardware level. Android STB is the right choice.

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