Even with a major infusion of horsepower with devices like the NVIDIA SHIELD and Razer Forge TV, the biggest thing holding back the Android TV platform is a scarcity of apps compared to more mature alternatives like Roku. It looks like Google is quickly trying to close the gap: in addition to the announcement of HBO Now (currently exclusive to Apple hardware) at Google I/O, a handful of high-profile and formerly unavailable apps are also making their way to Android TV in the near future. Read More
Hey Android TV fans: have you checked out our review of the NVIDIA SHIELD? You should. We worked really hard on it, and it's kind of being blown away by all this Google I/O news. Two things that the SHIELD Android TV can do that the Nexus Player can't are accessing external storage via USB and broadcasting audio over Bluetooth (with the extra remote). But if you flash the Android M developer preview to your Nexus Player, you can access both of those things! Read More
When you hear the name "NVIDIA," the first thing that comes to mind is most likely graphics cards, or at the very least the company's Tegra chips that have been powering Android devices for several years now. Either way, it's probably not "the company that makes the killer Android TV box that's hanging out in my living room."
But after today, it honestly might be.
We've spent the last week or so playing with both the base model SHIELD and storage-laden SHIELD Pro, which at this point are unquestionably the best Android TV boxes that money can buy. Read More
Google's remote application for controlling Android TV with your smartphone is... OK. It's adequate. It beats inputting passwords letter-by-letter with a physical remote, and that's about all you can say in praise of the app. While it lets you perform a voice search, it won't launch TV apps without going back to the home screen, and its trackpad isn't a cursor (as some apps might benefit from), it's just a gesture pad. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement, specifically on Android tablets. Here's what version 1.0 looked like on a tablet:
Ugh. Version 1.1, just released on the Play Store, fixes this rather embarrassing formatting and adds a little polish as well. Read More
Are you ready to watch ALL THE PIXELS? You certainly are if you've got a fancy 4K TV - the new top-of-the-line industry standard is begging for content, and Netflix is at the front of the queue. The streaming service has been offering some of its home-grown shows like House of Cards and Daredevil in 4K resolution to subscribers of a premium $12-a-month plan. Now you can access that sweet "UltraHD" video on Android TV... if you've got compatible hardware.
At the moment, the only Android TV devices capable of outputting in 4K aren't Android TV devices at all, they're Sony's latest batch of high-end smart TVs, which use Google's latest set-top box as an embedded operating system. Read More
Amazon, cut this crap out. Seriously, I'm getting really sick of it. As someone who pays you for media on a regular basis, to say nothing of my recurring Amazon Prime payments, I feel like I'm more than justified in telling you to stop sabotaging your own damn products.
Ahem. A little backstory, before we get to the central point here. After years of pretending that their customers simply didn't want to watch Amazon Instant Video on non-Fire devices, while concurrently giving iOS owners free access to their bought-and-paid-for video libraries, Amazon finally relented and released an Android app. Not a great Android app, mind you. Read More
I don't have a Nexus Player, neither do I live in a country where Netflix is available, but I would have assumed that a movie and TV streaming app on a set-top box should support surround sound. By default. I mean, that's a given, isn't it? WRONG. So wrong. Couldn't be any more wrong. Netflix' official version for Android TV, 1.0.4 build 136, just plays sound in stereo, no Dolby in sight.
Screenshots courtesy of our tipster, Garrett
That bummer is now remedied thanks to the extracted Netflix 2.0 APK from Sony's Android TV. Thanks to the same XDA user brar.arsh who extracted the Amazon Instant File, we now have a newer version of Netflix that you can send to your Nexus Player. Read More
Android TV may look different from vanilla Android, but underneath that tiled interface is the same operating system you know and love. That means it's possible to sideload whatever APKs you want. The thing is, without a touchscreen, most of them are pretty useless.
Take the regular Amazon Instant Video app. Besides requiring that you have the general Amazon app installed first, it fails to provide a passable experience on Android TV (which lacks an officially sanctioned Instant Video app because Amazon). You can start and stop content just fine, but fast forwarding or rewinding is a non-starter.
You're better off using the Amazon Instant Video app intended for Sony TVs running Android TV. Read More
Just like on mobile, Android TV users turn to the Play Store to install new apps. An update has rolled out that bumps the software up to version 5.4.12. The most immediate difference is a tweaked look, as the interface now sports larger titles.
On the functionality front, there's now an Update All button. Presumably it bumps all of your apps up to the latest versions, just as the Play Store does on smartphones and tablets.
The amount of content hasn't gone up, which remains Android TV's greatest issue. The number of action games, for example, remains at a lowly 35.
But that's not the latest version's fault. Read More
The Nexus Player is a tough sell at $99 when other set top boxes are more capable, but at less than $70? That's pretty appealing, and Google is sweetening the deal by offering $20 in Google Play credit if you buy through Amazon before May 3rd. Now that's a deal.