Now that Google’s October 4 event is over and has been fully digested, and now that we know there is no Pixel Player coming this year, it is time to take a quick moment to wish the Xiaomi Mi Box a happy birthday as it was exactly a year ago that this latest Android TV box arrived on the market. In fact due to the Oct. 4 proceedings this is more of a belated birthday as although the Mi Box did arrive in October, it did so just prior to last year’s Oct. 4 event, on October 3.
While we do wish the Mi Box a happy first birthday and all the best for the year ahead, with it reaching this first anniversary milestone it does raise one question. More accurately, it re-raises one question, as over the last year many Mi Box owners have been repeatedly asking where is their Android 7.0 (Nougat) update. Which is a very good question as this was a box that was released largely with Google’s endorsement and one which many considered to be of Nexus Player-like status. As a result it was expected that the Mi Box would come with Android Nougat at launch, or at the very least would be one of the first Android TV boxes to get updated to Nougat - which in reality would not have been that hard considering there are so few official Android TV boxes available. However, nothing could be further from the truth as in spite of being a year later, Nougat has yet to arrive on the Mi Box in any official capacity. Which is in spite of the Nexus Player (now three years old) having been able to run Nougat from almost day one, and the likes of the 2015 and 2017 NVIDIA SHIELDs receiving their update months ago. So if anything when it comes to the official Android TV market, the Mi Box is going to be the last to get its update, if it ever does. And there is good reason to wonder whether or not it will get the update officially, as there is no real reason as to why it has not happened yet.
Now, the word officially keeps being used intentionally as there is a beta build of Android Nougat for the Mi Box floating around and those interested in having some access to Nougat features are able to install the beta build by sideloading it. So it is not to say that there is no route to Nougat for Mi Box owners. But that is very different to receiving the full and proper release of Android Nougat on the Mi Box as an OTA update - which is likely what most average Mi Box owners will be waiting for. However, even this beta build is one that is questionable as this version has been on the market since quite early in 2017. So one has to question whether it really is reliable enough to run on a daily basis. Even the Android Marshmallow version which came installed on the Mi Box at launch is not the most reliable of Android TV versions, and considering this Nougat version has remained in beta for at least six months should raise some concerns over whether it is stable enough for daily use yet. After all, if it was, and with it being six months later, one would expect the beta tag to have been dropped and an official update to have rolled out. Of course, this is nothing new, and this exact conversation was had six month ago with many of the same points raised so the notion that Xiaomi is taking its time with this update is hardly newsworthy material. That said, it should not be ignored that it is now six months later and with the year milestone of release having been reached, it seems pertinent to reignite the conversation. Even more so when you consider owners of the NVIDIA SHIELD are already waiting to hear when they will receive their Android 8.0 (Oreo) update. Something which seems almost a given now for SHIELD owners - and likely even for the 2015 SHIELD devices. Which is in stark contrast to the Mi Box - as although this box is technically within the two-year OS commitment cycle, it is probably wise not to expect the Mi Box to ever receive Android Oreo - at least if Nougat is anything to go by as at present it could take up to two years for the official Nougat update to roll out.