Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, Tizen, and even HTML5 are all suitable for hosting client applications. But for various reasons, Android is the safe frontrunner among the platforms chosen as the operating system for set-top boxes in IPTV solutions. Other operating systems like 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 number of advantages. Apart from the fact that it is supported by a worldwide community of hardware vendors and software developers, this operating system offers a whole range of advantages that surpass other platforms in the consumer segment.
The interaction with the client device determines how successful the implementation of a particular service will be from the user's point of view. Rich rendering capabilities for GUI elements and fast responses to user commands are key to user satisfaction. Android STB has achieved a lot in this regard and provides continuous development to constantly improve these important elements of the Android operating system. See Fig. 1 for statistics on the latest GL commands supported by Android devices at the hardware level, which means that most devices offer excellent GUI rendering capabilities.
Today, Android is in use on more than 2 billion devices, half of which use the latest versions of Lollipop and Marshmallow. This is a clear indication that Android truly satisfies the masses, is easy to update, and is appreciated by users. The user experience is taken into account at all levels, from the inclusion of APIs in the system that help integrate app functions to the deep optimization of the system's core processes so that it works flawlessly on all types of hardware used by manufacturers for their devices.
Android STB offers a wide range of integration features by default and supports a variety of protocols and standards. At the same time, it is a system supported by a global network of organizations, institutions, and developer teams that use the Android SDK and write Java, C, and C++ applications with amazing functionality. Fig. 2 shows that most devices have updated Android versions installed, which means that the security, UX, and functionality of the Android platform used in embedded systems and mobile devices worldwide is in a very good state and meets the current expectations of users and developers.
On the other hand, Linux is believed to be the root of Android, leading to the false belief that Linux is the better choice. Undoubtedly, Linux shows great results when a set of libraries and modules are well matched to the kernel version and hardware. But let us face it, the resources required to create and support the enormous amount of custom code are not only expensive, but can never match the speed at which updates are released for Android. For what comes standard in the latest Android release, a development team on Linux might need an impractically large amount of resources, and then would not necessarily get the same results that would be much easier to achieve on Android.
Several DRM solutions are available on many platforms, with some preferred by DRM vendors. Widevine DRM, for example, is a Google product that has certain optimizations for smooth playback of secured content on devices running Android. Verimatrix, with its VCAS DRM, also works well on Android, with the extensible DRM framework embedded in the system and even using specific hardware features of some devices to achieve better performance. Linux is also supported by the major DRM systems, although the integration process is a bit more specific, which can affect video playback performance and content owner consent to the client device, depending on how securely the software layer interacts with the hardware itself.
Examination of market data, statistics and customer feedback shows that Android is the preferred platform for DRM adoption. Manufacturers support the more popular OS, especially Google with its Widevine DRM system optimized for Android even at the hardware layer. Android STB is the right choice.
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