The Android TV operating system is on its third generation and at CES 2017 Sony confirmed to FlatpanelsHD that version 7.0 (Nougat) will reach 2017, 2016 and 2015 TVs. Sony also spoke about its plans for Dolby Vision, YouTube HDR and the HLG format.
Android TV 7.0 on Sony TVs
Google launched Android TV based on 5.0 (Lollipop) in 2014. The 6.0 (Marshmallow) update started rolling out a few weeks ago and is now available in Asia and the US, and soon across Europe.
New features: PiP, multi accounts, multitasking menu, app recording, better HDR support, Vulkan 3D engine etc.
At CES 2017, Motoi Kawamura, Head of TV Marketing and Product Planning for Sony Europe, confirmed to FlatpanelsHD that version 7.0 (Nougat) is coming to both 2016 and 2015 models – and of course 2017 TVs. Sony launched the first Android TVs in 2015.
Version 7.0 will introduce new features such as picture-in-picture, multi accounts, multitasking menu, app recording, better HDR support, Vulkan 3D engine, bug fixes, and more.
Sony did not want to comment on timing but based on how long customers have had to wait for the previous version (6.0) we think it is safe to assume that it will take several months. Still, it is good news that Sony is not abandoning TVs only a few years old, which seems to be the norm in the TV industry.
In 2017, Samsung has introduced the third-generation Tizen OS but TVs launched over the last few years will not get the update. LG is on webOS 3.5 and previous models have not received any major updates. Firefox OS in the Panasonic TVs has been discontinued.
Dolby Vision, YouTube & HLG
Sony and Dolby announced a partnership at CES 2017 to bring the Dolby Vision HDR format to high-end 2017 models as well as last year’s Z9D/ZD9 flagship. Motoi Kawamura says that the update will be released later in 2017. Dolby Vision will not be functional at launch.
As FlatpanelsHD reported in September, Dolby Vision is not supported in Android TV versions prior to version 7.0. We asked Motoi if the two updates will be made available at the same time but he could not comment on the specifics at this point in time. Sony could decide to support Dolby Vision only via HDMI initially.
It was also confirmed that YouTube HDR is coming to all 2017 4K/HDR models. In addition, Sony will release an update to TVs launched in fall 2016, meaning Z9D (ZD9), XD83, SD80, X80D (XD80), X75D (XD75), and X70D (XD70). The update will not be made available on TVs launched in spring 2016. At last year’s CES show, Sony promised that it would, but the company ended up using another MediaTek SoC than originally planned. To support YouTube HDR a TV needs to feature hardware support for VP9 Profile 2.
Lastly, Sony confirmed that HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), which is the third HDR format, will come to all 2017 models via an update later this year. Sony did not comment on 2016 models. Update: Sony confirms that the HLG update will also come to 2016 TVs (ZD9/XD83/XD80/SD80/XD75/XD70 and XD94/XD93/XD85/X94C/X93C/X90C/X85C).