[Update: Official Netflix, Prime Video support coming with the update] Exclusive: Mi TV 4 PRO, 4A PRO, 4C PRO, and 4X PRO to get Android Pie update starting September
Xiaomi is best known for its propensity of shaking up the economics of nearly every segment of the smartphone market. While Xiaomi may very well be credited for a transformation in the category of smartphones as well as accessories, they have also played a vital role in realigning the Indian smart TV market in the favor of consumers. Besides economizing smart TVs, Xiaomi India is also starting to take regular updates very consciously. They recently introduced the Android TV Pie update for its first generation of Full HD smart TVs, such as the Mi LED TV 4A (32″ and 43″). Following the updates to older TVs, Xiaomi is confident about rolling out the Android Pie update to their second generation of smart TVs, including the Mi TV 4 PRO, 4A PRO, 4C PRO, and the 4X PRO starting as early as next month.
Xiaomi’s TV journey began in India in early 2018 and within a year, Xiaomi has outpaced other competitors by selling 2 million Mi TV units and grabbing nearly 40% of the smart TV market share in India. For perspective, the combined market share of Sony, Samsung, and LG in India was 41% in the first quarter of 2019 as per IDC’s data (via: 91Mobiles). This clearly shows Xiaomi’s unabated growth trajectory and to keep growth intact, they have been working on regular updates.
We had a telephonic conversation with Sudeep Sahu, Xiaomi’s Product Manager for Mi TV lineup, who walked us through Xiaomi’s plans for future updates.
Android Pie update for Mi TV 4 PRO/4A PRO/4C PRO/4X PRO in September 2019
The most exciting takeaway from this conversation was the new timeline for the update. Mr. Sahu informed me that the PRO series of the Mi LED TVs, including the Mi TV 4 PRO, 4A PRO, 4C PRO, and the 4X PRO will start receiving the Android Pie update starting September 2019. The updates will be available in batches and shall roll out to a few users at first, followed by a wider roll-out in the following months.
In September 2018, Xiaomi updated its Mi LED TV lineup, bestowing them with the PRO batch. With the PRO series, Xiaomi put its efforts in strengthening its position from the software side. The catalog of Mi TV PRO devices was launched with Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box.
Mr. Sahu said that while other brands are still working on Android Oreo updates for older TV, they have made arrangements to push out Android Pie to the TVs. In spite of that, they want to cut the lead time shorter by as much margin as possible.
“If [an Android TV update] is released in month X, we want to make sure, we work on it immediately, preempt, and try to get the certifications done well in advance.
In other words, we’re trying to set a standard – like we’ve done in terms of pricing, offerings and even bringing Android TV to even lower sizes and prices – to make sure the latest updates roll out to customers as soon as possible.”
The 32-inches variant i.e. the Mi TV 4A PRO and the TV 4C PRO should be among the first TVs from Xiaomi to receive the Android Pie update. Talking about Xiaomi’s ambitions to set a precedent for other OEMs selling smart Android TVs, Mr. Sahu said that they want to strive for faster and more regular bug fixes, security patches, and UI improvements.
“We want to lead the path and show [other brands] how Android TV updates [are done.]”
Android Pie update for newer smart TVs lesser challenging
As this piece touches upon in earlier paragraphs, Xiaomi has already rolled out Android Pie updates for the first generation of Mi TVs – namely the Mi TV 4A series. The update, however, is currently in beta and available to only select users. This is because these TVs initially ran on AOSP based builds but not specifically Android TV. Moving from AOSP to Android TV was technically challenging and this is the reason, Xiaomi skipped the Android Oreo updates, jumping straight to Android Pie.
Mr. Sahu says that in order to get the Android Pie update working on Mi TV 4A, Xiaomi had several rounds of discussion with Google, the chip manufacturer – Amlogic, as well as their contracted PCB manufacturer, to set up the infrastructure for migration from AOSP to Android TV. Since “no other brand,” in his own words has attempted this migration, the conceptualization of the custom solution took most of the time.
The PRO Series, on the other hand, was launched with Android TV firmware and thus, will be directly updated to the stable version of Android Pie. The team behind the effort is confident that the introduction of Project Treble will make the procedure of updates easier for not just them but also other manufacturers.
Xiaomi working on constantly improving PatchWall
Xiaomi is working on making recommendations and searches more contextual. In the Android Pie update, PatchWall and Android TV guide interface are working in tandem to improve the content discovery user experience. While PatchWall 3.0 is not on the cards, for now, we expect to see subtle yet useful changes in Xiaomi’s TV interface.
Update: Android Pie Update now rolling out to Mi TV 4A PRO and Mi TV 4C PRO
Mr. Sahu announced on Twitter that the first batch of Android Pie updates for the Mi TV 4A PRO and the 4C PRO is now rolling out, ahead of their committed timeline for an update in September. As we were told during the interaction on August 27th, the update will only be available to a few users initially and then to a wider group of users.
Mi TV 4A Pro /4C Pro Android TV 9.0 update roll out has started.
All other Pro series models are planned to receive this 9.0 update later.
While existing Android TVs in India are getting 8.0 we are trying to lead this change in TV industry. https://t.co/rjBWYXzKKQ
— Sudeep Sahu (@laurelsudeep) August 30, 2019
Update 2: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video support coming with Android Pie update
At the launch of the Mi TV 4X 65″ and other Android TVs earlier this week, Xiaomi announced their TVs will finally come with official Netflix and Prime Video support via the Google Play Store for Android TV. These apps had not been supported on Mi TVs so far but the accountment was a refreshing addition.
Here's a massive 'update' for existing #MiTVPRO series users.
4A PRO 32, 43, 49
4C PRO 32
4 PRO 55
— Mi TV India for #MiFans (@MiTVIndia) September 19, 2019
Today, Xiaomi announced that older Android TVs which are set to be updated to Android Pie will also get official support for Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. These models include the following:
- Mi TV 4A PRO (32″)
- Mi TV 4A PRO (43″)
- Mi TV 4A PRO (49″)
- Mi TV 4C PRO (32″)
- Mi TV 4 PRO (55″)
Xiaomi said that the update will roll out to these TVs sometime in this quarter without revealing exact details about the rollout for TVs other than the 4A PRO and the 4C PRO. There is, however, no official word on the availability of the update for the first-gen Mi TV 4A 43″ and 32″ which are currently under beta of Android Pie update.