Nvidia Shield TV gets a new OS – but it isn't Google TV

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(Image credit: Apple)

The Nvidia Shield TV streaming box is getting an update, starting today – with an overhauled interface that introduces some (but not all) of the improvements of the Google TV operating system (via The Verge).

Nvidia Shield TV famously runs on the Android TV platform, though Google has begun transitioning certain product lines onto the Google TV OS, as with the Chromecast with Google TV streamer.

This Shield TV update has certainly utilized more of the home screen than before, removing app shortcuts from the left hand side of the screen but expanding the apps view to get more services onscreen at one time. There's also now a Discover tab with content recommendations, and new banner promotions for Disney Plus shows.

The update stops short of bringing in Google TV in full – the Shield TV already has a remote distinct from the new Google TV clicker, so a full transition might not quite have worked – but it does show the software provider iterating on its offering.

The Google TV interface in general improves the usability of the Android TV interface, and we wouldn't be surprised to see it roll out into more product ranges. We're already seeing new Sony TVs that ditch the traditional Android TV OS for Google TV in 2021, for one. The Apple TV and Apple TV Plus services also came to all Android TV devices (including the Shield TV) earlier in the year.

Don't bug me

Android TV long had a reputation for buggy software, which has gradually been lost – though it may take a shift onto a sleeker Google TV interface to truly start anew and shake up some legacy design choices on the older OS.

There are some truly excellent smart TV platforms out there, and the continued popularity of streaming sticks indicates that many TV owners aren't overly happy with the built-in software that comes in so many screens.

Google then has to compete not only with the webOS and Tizen platforms found on LG TVs and new Samsung TVs respectively, but also the cheap and streamlined plug-in solutions found in the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite or Roku Express.

At the moment, though, it looks like Google is gearing up for a change.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.