Image credit : CNX Software
Any software platform must have developer hardware, and Android TV has been struggling with this for a while. Google hasn’t yet introduced a new Android TV developer device since the ADT-3 was retired, and it appears the ADT-4 box that would fill that function won’t even be made accessible to the general public.
ADT-4 was initially mentioned in late 2017; it is a new developer box for Android TV that moves away from the constrictive streaming stick form factor and offers greater power than ADT-3, which was discontinued in 2017 after being out of stock for months.
It is disappointing that Google has not yet openly addressed new developer hardware, especially with Android TV 14 on the way.
According to a presentation from the “Android TV partner bootcamp,” ADT-4 won’t be marketed to the general public or even Android TV developers, according to a recent claim from Android Authority. The device is reportedly being used by Google internally to develop the most recent version of Android TV OS, but it won’t be made available to the general public.
It goes without saying that this is bad news for developers since it means they won’t be able to purchase a device specifically designed for testing apps on updated Android TV OS versions. The Chromecast dongle from Google is relatively limited as a developer device because it lacks the capabilities to manually install new updates, even though it doesn’t receive updates very frequently.
The little good news is that ADT-4 is simply a customized version of Amlogic’s S905X4 reference device, as previously revealed. This implies that Amlogic and other resellers sell hardware that is nearly similar. But even with almost similar hardware, software builds might not be accessible or even compatible.
It appears that Google is effectively telling developers to only work with the Android TV OS emulator. Given that emulators can’t emulate things like HDR or HDMI, that seems like a horrible idea. It becomes even more challenging when considering more complex formats or things like frame rate matching.