No one will be able to buy Google’s ADT-4 Android TV box

Hero of the Amlogic S905X4 developer box

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority


  • Google is currently working on Android TV 14 based on Android 14.
  • It is developing the operating system on its ADT-4 reference device.
  • Unlike previous iterations, Google does not plan to offer this device to developers.

One of the main reasons Google created its Nexus (now Pixel) range was to have a reference device on which to develop and test new versions of the Android operating system. If you wanted to give it a try Android 14 on physical hardware while it was in its developer preview stage, for example, you had to have a Pixel phone. Although Google sells its own running hardware GoogleTV which is based on the Android TV operating system, the company does not use this hardware when developing new versions of Android TV. Instead, they build Android TV on the ADT-4 set-top box, a previously unreleased device that Android Authority learned that it will not be released to anyone outside of Google.

Developing an Android app isn’t easy, especially when you have to make sure it works well across devices from multiple vendors. Since there are so many different hardware vendors making Android devices, for example, it’s impossible for developers to test their apps on every single Android device their users could potentially have. Instead, most developers test their apps on an emulator Android studioon a reference device recommended by the OS developer and a handful of retail devices that represent a good portion of their user base.

While developers can test their Android TV apps on the latest version of Android TV via Google-provided emulator builds, they must use a physical device if they want to test anything involving advanced displays or audio formats. For example, features like HDR and continuous refresh rate switching need to be tested on hardware that actually supports them. The problem is that, unlike Android on smartphones, there are no retail devices that support the latest version of Android TV, so developers who need to test physical hardware have to choose the reference device that Google uses to develop the operating system.

Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) AND Chromecast with Google TV (4K) both currently run Android TV 12, which isn’t the latest version of the platform. The latest version of Android TV is Android TV 13, even if that version appears to be retired in favor of Android TV 14. Android TV 14, currently in beta, is ready to offer new features such as incoming call notificationsA remappable shortcutAND other changes. If a developer wants to test their app on Android TV 14, their only option is to use the emulator, because Google doesn’t offer its reference device to developers this time.

Android TV 14 on your device

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

Android TV 14 based on Android 14 is currently in beta testing.

Google unveiled its first Android TV developer kit at I/O 2014. Dubbed the ADT-1, the device ran an experimental build of Android 4.4 KitKat before receiving an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Its successor, the ADT-2, launched at I/O 2018 with Android TV 9. That device was replaced by the ADT-3 in December 2019 along with the Android TV 10 announcement. The ADT-3 kept getting updates, including one for Android TV 13, but the device was interrupted in December 2022. 9to5Google first reported on the existence of the ADT-4 that same month, but Android Authority has seen evidence that the device will not be sold to developers.

Google ADT devices

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

At Google’s annual Android TV partner bootcamp, the company informed its Android TV partners that its ADT-4 development device is for Google use only. A slide shown at the conference and viewed by Android Authority says that although Google is using the ADT-4 to develop Android TV 14, it will not offer this device externally.

Google’s Android TV partners won’t be able to get one either, but that shouldn’t be a big deal for them since the ADT-4 is based on the Amlogics S905X4 SoC reference device. Companies with contacts in Amlogic can get their hands on one directly from the company, while others may be able to get one from a third-party reseller. However, without direct support from Amlogic or Google, it’s unclear how you can get a working build of the latest version of Android TV onto your device.

Amlogic S905X4 developer box

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

We reached out to Google and Amlogic about the ADT-4, but neither company responded to our questions. We’ve also reached out to SEI Robotics, the company that makes the ADT-4 for Google, but haven’t heard back yet. It’s strange that Google isn’t offering its reference hardware to developers this time around, especially since the company is reportedly making a bigger monetization push, according to Janko Roettgers in his Low pass news bulletin. One would think that more developers getting their hands on the Android TV reference hardware would be a good thing, since apps and media are where the most money is made.

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