Android TV is very much alive, as was made abundantly clear by the plethora of new Android TV powered televisions with Google Assistant capability shown off at CES 2018. Streaming boxes powered by Android TV, however, are conspicuously missing—the last Android TV set-top box to be released in the United States was the Xiaomi Mi Box in October 2016.
Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV products both received hardware refreshes last September, while Roku products received hardware refreshes in October. In comparison, the three year old Nexus Player—arguably the flagship of Android TV—last received a software update in November, and will not be upgraded to Android 8.1 Oreo. So, where have the boxes gone?
The famous media of androidpolice says, Android TV effectively lacks a flagship to compete head-to-head with the Apple TV. The Nexus Player is discontinued, leaving Android TV without a real developer device commonly available for testing. Presently, no Android TV device actually runs the latest version of Android. The Shield TV—while admittedly a good product—causes fragmentation, as the high number of Shield exclusive apps makes that device related to but separate from Android TV as a whole.
In addition, with the advent of Project Treble in Android 8.0 Oreo, future Android TV devices can maintain software support for the natural lifespan, not left to wither on outdated versions of Android. Until then, there is no compelling reason to upgrade from your existing Android TV device—or move to Android TV—unless you are buying a new TV anyway, or your cable provider offers a free upgrade for a new set-top box.