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Years ago, NVIDIA bowed out of the mobile rat race after releasing a dedicated gaming handheld and a tablet. The company wasn’t making money in that market, and it likely didn’t have what it would take to go head-to-head with the likes of Samsung and Apple, so it instead focused on what it does best. Of course, it still made a killing with the Tegra X1 chip that powers the Nintendo Switch, and it also launches a new Shield TV device every so often.
It’s difficult to say whether NVIDIA would have ultimately succeeded in making smartphones or even just gaming tablets, but one thing is certain: it has so far surpassed all Android phone makers, including Google, in how extensively it supports its devices, as proven by the latest Shield Experience firmware update that has started to roll out, which includes fixes for NVIDIA Shield models going as far back as 2015.
It might be an “apples to oranges” comparison, given the comparatively smaller number of Shield devices out in the wild, but NVIDIA is hardly a long-time player in the Android arena. The company definitely has the software chops when it comes to graphics technologies, even on mobile, but wrangling version after version of Android is no small feat. And yet, NVIDIA isn’t merely releasing minor maintenance updates, but also big Android upgrades, as well.
Case in point? The wonderful surprise NVIDIA gave Shield owners earlier this year. After announcing that it won’t be upgrading devices to Android 10, it rolled out Shield Experience 9.0, which jumped from Android 9 to Android 11. Of course, it was already a year late at this point, but the fact that Android 11 was being made available on the 2015 Shield TV was enough to overlook that tardiness.
What’s new in Shield experience 9.0.2
That large update wasn’t without its share of equally big bugs, and NVIDIA has been addressing those with a steady stream of updates. This second and latest release continues that journey, bringing both enhancements and bug fixes for supported devices. For example, the update adds “helpful notifications” when connecting removable storage and also improves the speed of file transfers.
For those who use other platforms’ controllers, there are a number of fixes for pairing with the PlayStation Dual Shock 3, Nintendo Switch Pro, and Xbox Series X|S controllers.
To prove that it is still paying close attention to older models, there are also some fixes specifically for those aging devices. The 2015 and 2017 Shield models, for example, will no longer see their Google Play Games crashing. The 2019 models, on the other hand, will enjoy improved AI upscaling in Netflix and will no longer experience stuttering on headsets when Dolby Audio Processing is in use.
There is no word yet on whether the company is working on an Android 12 update, but hopefully, it will still include the 2015 Shield TV on the compatibility list, if for no other reason than to show off to other Android device manufacturers.