The promise of Android on TVs has been a long and almost unreachable dream but that journey may now be at an end with Google‘s formal Android TV push. But while we are still waiting for the Nexus Player, the first Android TV device that isn’t actually a TV, to ship, many are excited, if not curious, what this new “lean back” living room experience offers on the table. If you have an OUYA gaming console, however, you might not need to wait that long, provided you’re willing to jump through hoops to get to your destination.
The OUYA is somewhat a bittersweet piece of Android gaming history. It started with a high-profile and successful Kickstarter that was followed by multiple delays. It eventually arrived with much fanfare and support from both indie developers and big publishers alike, but its reputation was marred by one controversy after another. Now there is even talk of the startup seeking buyers to pick it up. Some who might have outgrown or even stopped believing in the OUYA promise can now put it to another use, this time by replacing the stock firmware with what Google has in mind for the future of Android in TVs and in gaming.
That said, getting Android TV on the console isn’t an easy process. It all starts with first wiping out the OUYA-based system and then installing CyanogenMod 11 over it. Once done, users will then have to flash the special Android TV ZIP on top of it. But even if that proves to be successful, not everything is working yet. LAN, WiFi, and Bluetooth are working and so is Display. Sound, however, is noted to be only partially working, with some stuttering in both audio and video to be expected. Some services and apps, which aren’t named, don’t even work at all. It is, however, in its initial release and clearly a work in progress, with some hope that things get ironed out soon.
Those who don’t have an OUYA or with money to spare might, however, just wait for the Nexus Player to ship. It has beefier specs and, in theory, a more vanilla Android experience. And being a Nexus device, there is an implied promise of regular and timely support and updates from Google, at least for two years. But like the OUYA, this is still a risky investment into a domain that Android is yet to penetrate (remember the Nexus Q?). Then again, those who would want to install Android TV on the OUYA are the ones who aren’t averse to make that jump anyway.