Android TV hasn’t changed much since its conception a few years ago, but at I/O this past year, Google announced a brand new design for Android TV based on Oreo. The new UI is gorgeous, but most Android TV makers have been quiet on updating their devices to the new version. According to Nvidia, there’s a reason for that…

Speaking to TechHive at CES earlier this month, Nvidia’s director of Shield management, Chris Daniel, was able to reveal some new details about the set-top box. He said that the Shield TV is “doing very well” and that the company has plans to bring it to more countries this year, as well as an expanded retail presence in the United States.

What was more interesting, though, was what Daniel had to say regarding Android Oreo. Traditionally, Nvidia has been quick to adopt new releases from Google to their Android hardware, but Oreo has been available for months at this point with no sign of its arrival on Shield. Thankfully, though, Daniel says that Nvidia will be delivering Oreo on the Shield TV this year, but there’s no more specific time frame.

Why the delay? Apparently, Nvidia isn’t satisfied with Oreo on Android TV just yet. Daniel says that Nvidia is “making a lot of change with Google” to this update, mainly to fix the new interface. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as we’ve seen Nvidia work with Google in the past to improve Shield features.

It seems that Nvidia’s main problem with Oreo right now is app support, as the new interface changes things so dramatically that developers have to update their apps to better support it.

“Recommendations” are the core part of this problem. Where Android TV up until Nougat didn’t fully rely on recommendations to function, Oreo changes that. The new “What’s Next” UI has recommendations running throughout it, requiring apps to support the functionality in order to have the interface populated with content.

Sadly, Android TV developers have a tendency to be pretty slow in this regard (looking at you Hulu), so Nvidia can’t release the update and then hope developers jump on board quickly afterward.

..if you release a whole new interface, and the apps aren’t supporting it, then we don’t feel like it’s a good launch for us, so we’re working hard on that.

Waiting on developers makes a lot of sense from Nvidia’s point of view, as releasing a new interface for its users that isn’t complete due to the apps would be a jarring experience, especially for owners who don’t know that the update changes everything. Needless to say, though, someone has to get Oreo on Android TV into the hands of developers in order to solve this problem. Time for a Pixel Player, no?

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Ben Schoon

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