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Nvidia added a buggy Android 11 update to its Shield TV lineup

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Avid users of the streaming devices are reporting broken Plex servers and various app performance issues

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Nvidia’s Shield TV, the best streaming player for home theater experts and gamers, pictured on a table. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

When Nvidia announced the rollout of the Shield Experience 9.0 (Android 11) update for its Android TV devices, we were impressed by the simple fact that it would include Shield TV models dating back to 2015 — but the buzz was short-lived as many owners are reporting major bugs on even the latest models.

As 9to5Google reports, people that ran the update on their Shield TVs lost access to their Plex media servers — a popular use case for the devices thanks to their powerful processor and a USB port that supports storage devices.

Nvidia is taking action on the matter: it posted a support page explaining how to give apps (like Plex) permission to use storage devices in Android 11, and at least one Reddit user wrote that it fixed their Plex server. The company also posted on its support forum an explanation for users surprised that Nvidia let slip a broken release — placing some of the blame on Plex. Nvidia shared that Plex was involved in the development of Shield Experience 9.0 and all was ok until Plex pushed a new update on Jan 4th that made an API change and broke it.

There are a lot of questions about how SHIELD Experience could be launched with Plex Media server not working correctly. The root of the issue with Plex Media Server on launch day of 9.0 is related to the changes in Android 11 for Storage. We worked closely with Plex during SHIELD Experience 9.0 development to make sure PMS was working and during all of our internal and external beta testing it was working. Plex wasn’t 100% ready for Android 11’s changes but we had it working. Unfortunately though on January 4th a new version of PMS was launched which changed the reported API level and that broke PMS on SHIELD Experience 9. All of our testing had been complete and the change went unnoticed until launch day.

We are working closely with Plex now to get a new PMS that has full Android 11 storage support and cleans up this experience. In the meantime, one can generally still get PMS working by using a combination of the HotFix image and the 1.24 version of PMS and enabling all of the storage privleges per the first item in the Known issues list.

Today 9to5Google received a statement from Nvidia saying it is working directly with Google on this matter, with a spokesperson stating that they have learned that the drive permission issue affected by Plex is due to Android 11 the software treating “Allow only while using the app” permissions as though they are set to “Don’t Allow”. The fix is to manually change the permissions to “Always Allow” or “Allow” based on what is available to the app.

The company also opened a support forum to collect bug reports on its Android 11 products directly from users and developed a list of about 27 known and reported bugs.

Another popular use case for the Shield TV is running Kodi for live TV and other media — but there are reports it also shows performance issues, stuttering, and outputting blank screens. Even popular streaming apps like YouTube and Hulu have exhibited everything from delayed loading to blank screens, according to posts on the Shield subreddit.

Nvidia’s HotFix program is available for testing bug fixes as they come out, but bear in mind that these are untested releases that break some DRM-d services like Disney Plus and don’t include an option to roll back.

Update January 19th, 6:43PM ET: Updated with new details about Nvidia working directly with Google and Plex on the issues.