How To Control the Nexus Player’s Volume (Or Why the Google UX is So Weird)

11/26/2017

Maybe you remember this product: the Nexus Player. It was the first device running Android TV. However, it didn’t exactly hit the market, as it had many issues and nowadays, there are many better alternatives like the Nvidia Shield. One of the biggest issues: you can’t control the volume.

Yup, something this trivial was not implemented. Luckily, with a few easy steps, you can give your Nexus Player a welcomed feature. (This post may contain irony and might just point out how laughable Android TV currently is and that Google needs to get there f-ing act together.)

The Steps

Step 1

Firstly, get a custom ROM for your little box; Pure Nexus 6.0.1 to be specific. This ROM has many nice features, including the ability to control the volume. You might think that Marshmallow is a little dated, but since both Nougat and Oreo screwed my Android TV experience sideways anyhow, this isn’t much of a drag for me.

Step 2

After voiding your warranty (though I doubt there’s a single unit out there that even has a valid warranty anymore), you are now technically able to control the volume – yay! But you might have already noticed that there still are no volume buttons on your NP remote, strangely. So we gotta fix this using software. I thought of an interesting way using Tasker. Tasker is a brilliant automation tool and you can even install it via the Play Store website on your Nexus Player – after you’ve purchased it. To be fair, Tasker is worth every single penny and since I already have it, I chose to use it also in this scenario. Now the plan is that you have Tasker on your phone and your box. On your phone, you have a little scene with two buttons (volume up and down) which send commands via Pushbullet to the TV which executes them. So let’s set that up!

Step 3

Install Tasker, Pushbullet and a file manager (we’ll need that later) both on your phone and NP. Then create the scene on your phone – one button should send “+”, the other one “-” via Pushbullet to the TV. While you’re at your phone, also create two profiles/tasks that will in- and decrease the volume when a Pushbullet containing “+” or “-” is received. Export the profiles/tasks and send them via a file manager (WiFi direct, Google Drive…) to your box and import them in Tasker.

Step 4

Test it, realize that Android TV apps may not run in the background and rage out completely because everything you’ve just did was absolutely useless!

The Whole Point

Google needs to get their act together. Many of their released products and systems (especially the smaller ones) are either not getting updated at all or very bad updates. Don’t believe it? Here’s my recent experience with Android TV:

And this is not the only product they are messing up. I’ve heard similar from Android Wear and Auto users, and aside from Android it’s just as bad. Both the YouTube web version and app are not in a user friendly state (where is “remove watched videos from Watch Later”?), services belonging together are getting torn apart (Allo/Duo/Hangouts/Messenger; Home shopping list/Keep/GTasks/Calendar; Gmail/Inbox; Chrome/Chrome OS/Cast/Android/Fuchsia) and I feel like Google is not working in one direction.

Everything together could probably be summed up with: work together, peeps.