Android TV is based on the same OS on your smartphone, but generally speaking, major updates are far and few in between. Most devices today are based on Android 10, with very few on 11. Now, though, the custom ROM LineageOS is bringing Android TV 11 to some devices, including possibly Google’s Chromecast.

A group of Android developers have published (via XDA) LineageOS 18.1 builds for a few Android TV devices. These include the super-affordable Walmart Onn box (not the stick), the Dynalink box, and also Google’s ADT-3 developer dongle. The custom ROM brings Android 11 to all these devices, though the ADT-3 is already running that version.

What’s the advantage of running LineageOS on Android TV, beyond a newer version? There aren’t many big add-ons here, though the developers say that the build is “Android TV, with some of the better components of Google TV.” Rather, there are quite a few downsides to installing these builds, including the loss of the Netflix for Android TV app, no SafetyNet support (without further modification), and a couple of minor known issues. Despite that, Android fans could certainly have a good time tinkering with these devices once on LineageOS without putting much cash on the line, given the $29 starting price of these devices.

The developers working on LineageOS for Android TV say that a build for Chromecast with Google TV is coming “soon.”

Just last week, security researchers Jan Altensen (Stricted) and Nolen Johnson (npjohnson) published a bootloader unlock method for Chromecast with Google TV. This is based on an exploit that’s only present on devices manufactured before December 2020 and that were not updated past an update released in February 2021. While that limits who can install custom ROMs like this, it does open the door.

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Ben Schoon

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