A number of device owners have now started reporting that a recent update to their Android TV-powered Sony TV set brings with it software which has the ability to see what the user is watching with a view to providing them with targeting ads. The software comes in the form of ‘Samba Interactive TV’ and has been noted as having been installed following the update.
To be clear, this is not a new thing as many device owners have reported the inclusion of Samba on a Sony-branded TV long before the Android Nougat update started rolling out. As Sony has for a long time used Samba software on its TVs and even before it started using Android TV as the underlying software. So while it is currently unclear as to whether users are seeing a fresh version now showing up, or only noticing the installed software for the first time, it is worth all Sony Android TV owners being aware that this software is likely to be present on the system.
The software is supposedly there to improve the experience by making it a more personal one. However, as is the case with user privacy in general, it stands to reason that many device owners will likely not want such software running in the background and making a note of their viewing habits, regardless of the reason or benefit. For those users, this is a feature that can be disabled through the settings (as shown in the image below). Although disabling may lead to another issue where warning prompts repeatedly show up on the screen advising that the feature is disabled. According to the Reddit post where this was recently noted, however, those who experience this warning prompt are likely to of already had the feature disabled when upgrading. With the easy fix suggestion being to enable the feature first, upgrade, then disable once again after upgrading. In the worst case scenario, another redditor on the same thread offers an ADB-based way to fix the issue. This, will of course, require the user to activate developer permissions on the TV, and have somewhat knowledge of how to connect and issue ADB commands. On that note, the command to disable the Samba feature is as follows.
adb connect 192.168.x.xxx
pm list packages | grep 'samba'
pm uninstall --user 0 'get the apk name from above'