Hands-On With Shield Experience 5.0

Last week was when NVIDIA rolled out their much-awaited operating system update. The Shield Experience 5.0 is based on Android Nougat, 7.0. A lot of the new features were covered in our original first look last year, but NVIDIA has added a number of small tweaks as well. In our dedication to Android TV, we’re taking a careful analysis at every difference that has been added. Our deep dive is below.

Background

microbio

In every update, NVIDIA replaces the default wallpaper on the launcher. You can’t customize this background, although that would be neat, but NVIDIA does try to find fascinating images. In this update, they replace the previous image with one that seems to be of cells under a green neon light.

Settings

Settings_20170127_210342

The settings are in fact now implemented as a panel that overlays the screen. As Daydream is now the name of Google’s VR efforts, so the previous feature is now named more aptly “screen saver”. The details of this feature are unchanged.

Down a little more you’ll see the settings for NVIDIA accessories. You’ll be able to look at current devices and pair new ones if necessary. One component of the original menu was battery details. You could go there to see if your controller had a low battery. Now this is made much more apparent through a low battery icon on the homescreen.

Low Battery

In addition to overlaid changes, the media toggle now displays “Media” above the seekbar. This change doesn’t seem justified. In Android there are three system volumes: media, notifications, and alarms. As the latter two lack interfaces on Android TV, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for differentiating. Each volume has a custom icon as well, further reducing any apparent confusion.

mediavolum0

Apps

amazon prime app

The biggest new addition is the Amazon Instant Video app that now is pre-loaded (can’t be uninstalled) on the Shield. It is just like the sideloaded version, and has roughly the same playback experience. Still, it’s much better for new users, and makes the Shield a more complete media device.

Aside from new apps, current apps have gotten a few changes. You may notice that the Apps and Games rows are now switched back to their original positions. Previously, it would be Recommendations, Shield Apps, Games, and Apps respectively. The priority of the Games row was contrary to every other Android TV. Now this has been corrected. Another notable omission is Netflix from the Shield Apps row. Don’t worry, it has moved out of that and into the standard Apps row. The app is still pre-installed.

With regards to gaming, the SHIELD Games app has added numerous changes that are detailed in this article.

Peripherals

Another small series of changes are around hardware. The Shield remote now adds a pause/play toggle when you double tap on the volume slider. The new Shield gamepad that ships with the 2017 model can be paired to the original, although it must be done as a Bluetooth device and not a through the standard interface.

Conclusion

Overall, NVIDIA seems to have done a pretty decent job of integrating all these changes and delivering another big update for their users. It’s great to see them accommodating older users, especially when the hardware is still fast and robust. They have made smart choices, such as implementing the Recents menu with a double tap instead of long tap on Home, and should be prepared for what comes next. Google Assistant will run great on the device thanks to the microphones embedded in the remotes. It should be even better once the Spot is released for the 2nd generation model.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker) Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop. Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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  • Philip Turnbull

    what happens if the update does not take fully. I have no prime or other apps,can not install kodi, lost internet when update was installed, is there a way to uninstall and re-install the upgrade??

    • Nick Felker

      That’s a bit of a problem. You certainly can factory reset and redo the update, although you may want to check if there was an update problem. Software updates download first, verify that it is unchanged, and performs the update locally.

    • PandaBread

      Its because of licensing that the amazon app is not appearing anywhere outside the us. Just change the language to english us and disable location. Then reboot the shield.

      • Philip Turnbull

        thanks i did that and vudu and amazon appeared.. tried vudu and it says it is not available as it still picks my country code as Canada.. but I should be able to get prime as it is in canada and i am a member
        and i tried it on my computer weeks ago and it worked…thanks for your help..nvidia should tell members unless they live in the US the apps are geoblocked from other countries
        as advertising them is in reality false advertising…if they show it everyone expects it..once again thanks for your help.it was appreciated

  • Philip Turnbull

    how do I verify it is unchanged and can I install the file myself..if so where would I get it from?

    • Nick Felker

      Did you device apply the update? What information do you see in the About section? Is that up to date?

      • Philip Turnbull

        in the about section

        model shield android tv

        model p2571

        ver 7.0

        netflix esn nfandoid2-prv-shieldandroidtv-nvidishield=android=tv-5485-955739ead346b8acad0621f5bb13888b98458a0fff136df5d8adfc776690579ecb
        android security patch level december 1 2016

        kernal version 3.10.96+

        buildbrain@mobile-u64=827 #1

        sun jan 22 03:48:25 pst 2017

        build nr090m.1915764_835.9903

        shield android tv sw version 5.0(24.28.401.110)

        all the apps like amazon prime and the others added are not shown and they were a big part of the upgrade..i am lost

        • Nick Felker

          Yes that is unusual because technically you are on the latest update. Are you in the US? The preloaded apps may be dependent on region.

          • Philip Turnbull

            no I am not in the US just north in Canada

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