After several hints leaking regarding its inevitable arrival, the Android 11 update for Nvidia Shield TV devices is now rolling out. Shield Experience 9.0, as it’s officially called, is coming to all Shield TV models, including the original 1st-gen devices released in 2015. While the update makes very few customer-facing changes, its real value is in stretching the longevity of Shield TVs even further by ensuring app developers don’t stop supporting the device due to it running an old version of Android.
The original Shield TV was released in May 2015, which means Nvidia has been supporting it with updates for just over 6 and a half years. For comparison, the original Fire TV was released in April 2014 and officially lost software support this year. The last update that I’m aware of it receiving was in September 2021, which was about 7 and a half years after it was released. The 2nd-gen Fire TV, released in October 2015, was last updated last month in December 2021.
While the software support longevity between Amazon and Nvidia are on par with one another with regard to the amount of time the devices continue to receive updates, a significant difference between Amazon and Nvidia’s updates is Amazon’s lack of updating the core Android version. All of Amazon’s pre-2017 models are still running an OS based on Android Android 5.1. While Amazon has continued to add updates and features that keep older models fairly on par with the features of newer models, those updates simply don’t get the notoriety as updates to the core version of Android, like the Shield TV is rightly receiving right now.
Even though this Shield TV update to Android 11 makes little to no difference in actual device usage, it goes a long way to ensure app developers don’t neglect older Shield TV models. App developers will often draw arbitrary lines for which device models they will support with their app based on the version of Android running on the device. Updates to the version of Android help to keep the device supported by all apps, even if the update itself adds little to no actual value.
Below is Nvidia’s list of changes and highlights brought on by the Shield TV update to Android 11:
- Updated Gboard (Google Keyboard) with better support for voice and Google Assistant.
- Additional privacy permissions, like “only this time” options, for temporary permissions.
- Adds support for aptX-compatible Bluetooth headsets.
- Adds option to automatically disconnect Bluetooth devices on sleep.
- Adds new Energy saver setting for additional power customization.
- Adds option to match content audio resolution.
- Adds Stadia button support to XBOX, Playstation, and SHIELD controllers.
- Adds support for GeForce RTX 3080-class cloud gaming through Nvidia’s GeForce Now service.
- Adds support for Dolby Vision in Google Play Movies & TV app.
- Adds support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos in Apple TV app.
- Adds IMDb TV app.
- Adds iQiyi app.
- Includes Android security patch level September 2021.