If you think of Android TV like the mobile version of Android, then Google TV is basically an OEM skin in the mold of One UI or OxygenOS. So when devices like the newest Chromecast models get features like a user account switcher, they’re coming from the Google TV side of things. Android TV devices like the Nvidia Shield TV, on the other hand, have yet to offer separate experiences for different people using the same TV — but with Google’s latest update to the Android TV home screen experience, that finally seems to be changing.
Some users on the Android TV subreddit have started seeing an account switcher icon towards the top-right corner of their Android TV home screen (via 9to5Google). It’s nestled between the settings icon and the clock, and it features the profile image of the primary Google account you’ve been using on your TV. It only appears when you’re using the Google Discover version of the Android TV home screen — the one with the ads, not the classic Leanback UI.
If you’re like us, you probably clicked this icon as soon as you saw it in the hopes that Android TV had finally gotten a true user profile system. Sadly, this isn’t the case — the new user switcher is only for changing the TV’s primary Google account. Even more of a letdown, this doesn’t change the account used in Google apps like YouTube, YouTube TV, or even the Play Store. The eagle-eyed among you might even notice a typo: “Login to a different Google account” is using the noun “login” instead of the verb “log in.”
So it’s a horrible letdown on all fronts, but what exactly does it change? One very specific thing: the Google account you choose in this menu will be the one used for recommendations in the Discover tab on your home screen. It’s somewhat useful in the sense that the content you watch while logged into your Google account will be used to form personalized recommendations, so on a shared TV, everyone can have their own unique Discover feed.
In the end, we’re still left hoping for a true account switcher on Android TV that would allow for sandboxed apps with user-specific logins and data, as well as other features like a restricted profile for children. But this would likely require an OS update, so older Android TV devices may never see such a feature. If you’re tired of waiting, you might want to check out some of the best streaming devices in 2023, most of which have a real user account switcher.