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TiVo Stream devices start getting Google TV update

The new user experience started rolling out to TiVo Stream 4K devices this month.

The new user experience started rolling out to TiVo Stream 4K devices this month.

A TiVo Stream device shows an updated home screen powered by Google TV. (Graphic by The Desk)

TiVo parent company Xperi has started pushing out a software update that brings the Google TV user interface to the TiVo Stream 4K for the first time, The Desk has confirmed.

The update started rolling out to users of newer-model TiVo Stream 4K devices in North America this month, with plans to support older TiVo Stream 4K devices in the coming weeks.

The TiVo Stream 4K was introduced in 2020 as the first streaming TV device offered by the brand synonymous with broadcast and cable DVRs. Unlike traditional TiVo devices, the TiVo Stream 4K runs a modified version of Android TV and is focused entirely around streaming TV apps like Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video and YouTube.

The TiVo Stream 4K differentiates itself from other Android TV streamers by offering a unique app, called TiVo Stream, that offers personalized content recommendations from various partner services. Those services include Sling TV and YouTube TV, which integrate their live TV guides right into the TiVo Stream app, and video on-demand partners like Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu and Max.

With the TiVo Stream 4K running Android TV, users are also able to install and use apps from the Google Play Store, even if those services don’t directly integrate with the TiVo Stream app.

Until recently, the TiVo Stream 4K was one of the few Android TV streaming devices that didn’t support the new Google TV experience, which Google has pushed out to its own Chromecast with Google TV and made available to third-party hardware makers like Nvidia.

That initial lack of upgrade, coupled with Xperi’s push to develop its own TiVo-branded streaming operating system, led some to speculate that the company was giving up on the TiVo Stream 4K. That speculation was fueled in part by comments made by Xperi CEO Jon Kirchner, who told investors on a conference call that Google’s decision to offer its own user interface on Android TV devices “eclipses one’s ability to, I think, reasonably be an alternative that might otherwise live on their lower level platform.”

Reading between the lines, it seemed Kirchner was saying the introduction of Google TV — which offers personalization features that are similar to TiVo Stream, but actually baked into the Android TV experience — meant the company might not have much of a reason to continue developing the TiVo Stream app and the TiVo Stream 4K hardware.

After the rumor mill started, company officials ultimately confirmed that Xperi would continue supporting the TiVo Stream 4K device and improve both its hardware and software “based on consumer needs and feedback.”

While the TiVo Stream app is still available, it appears Xperi is now leaning into the idea of giving streamers the choice of using that app or the new Google TV experience for their personalization and content discovery needs.

That said, the new Google TV update on the TiVo Stream 4K is still missing a few features found on other devices, including the new “Live” tab that offers access to Google’s own collection of free, ad-supported streaming channels. The update also doesn’t allow TiVo Stream 4K users to easily switch between Google profiles; that feature is still buried within the device’s settings menu.

Still, the Google TV update on supported TiVo Stream 4K devices gives the experience a refreshed, modern feel that rivals comparable budget Android TV streamers on the market. And it signals that Xperi is true to their word when the company said it would continue supporting the device over the long term.

The TiVo Stream 4K is available at most electronics stores, including Best Buy. It is also available on Amazon, where it is currently on sale for $25.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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