It seems to be part of the Nexus Creed to be on the bleeding edge of Android. Many of us from the moment we grabbed, rooted, and installed a ROM on our first device all sought to keep the latest version of Android running on our devices. We also suffered through the pains and often inconveniences that went along with devices that randomly would reboot, or would drop telephone calls.
Google, in an effort to rein in those bleeding edgers have created a landing page for people with their Nexus devices to accept and take part of the beta program. By accepting the terms that you’re turning your device into a testing ground ripe with failure and bugs, we blissfully become part of a new community of like minded tech masochists.
Along with those Nexus smartphones and tablets though, is the Nexus Player. This set-top box with remote was Google’s second foray into the entertainment space since their introduction of Google TV back in 2012. The new and improved platform has many applications and features available and that feel of having the Nexus experience also on our televisions. Reception has been mixed for the Android TV but I have found my experience overall to have been favorable.
I decided to sign up and participate in the Android N beta project for not only my phone but my Nexus Television. I figured with my experiences, I would be able to overcome those obstacles just as well as I could if my phone were to misbehave. I found myself incorrect and tragically so.
Nexus Player Android N First Impressions
I would say in short, do not install the N release for Android TV. Until app developers make necessary updates, the interface has become increasingly buggy and unstable.
Per prior sources, we know that Google is going to be bringing some interesting changes onboard to the next version of their player. We have heard and seen reports of DVR like functionality coming to devices likely with better storage capacity. App optimization has been a lot smoother on most all Android N devices. Compiling apps took seconds rather than minutes as it has before, which is a major annoyance of ARM devices. We’re also led to believe that a picture in picture or split screen interface is coming to N devices.
None of these major enhancements really work yet for the Nexus Player. The only real change to anything is the user interface in the help and settings menus. There are some noticeable changes that make the screen almost look crisper, but there is no killer feature for this particular upgrade for this particular device. That is why I would say avoid the upgrade at least for now. There have been few troubles by the way of crippling error messages or crashes, but there are several warnings about content upload issues and playback by and large hasn’t changed. I wasn’t using voice search often beforehand but with the first release, it’s simply not working at all. I’m sure that will get fixed in time.
The bread and butter of this platform are the applications. For the most part developers are not even remotely ready to optimize their device for Android TV. With bigger success in Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV, I would not hold my breath for these applications to be upgraded anytime soon. Some of Google’s own applications such as Music/All Access weren’t even updated before the upgrade came along. As a result, my Hulu, Kodi, Netflix, YouTube apps all run with extra glitchiness with no significant changes.
I would recommend waiting until at least Google I/O to even begin considering placing your Nexus TV into the Next version of Android. Anything less than stable would not be wise for this platform. As nice as the upgrade seems to be, the polish is not worth the trouble yet.