Android TV Apps

Android TV Apps

So, you've bought an Android TV device. Congratulations! But now what?

A few apps - like YouTube and Netflix - might come pre-installed. For the rest, it's up to you.

Android TV is an excellent platform if you're looking to unlock the full potential of your big screen. It comes with Google's Play Store, which gives you a good range of apps to choose from and install.

For the best experience, you need a mix of videos, music, productivity, and system apps. With that in mind, here are the essential Android TV apps you need to install right away.

1. MX Player

MX Player has long been considered one of the best video players on Android. Its qualities comfortably translate onto the larger screen.

The app can play a vast number of codecs and supports subtitle files. MX Player's interface is also smooth and easy to use.

MX Player can also read both locally saved files and content from external drives, making it an excellent companion for anyone whose Android TV device has USB ports.

2. AirScreen

Android TV devices natively support Google Cast. This means you can cast content from Android smartphones and other Google products, such as the Chrome browser and Chromebooks, straight to your TV screen.

Apple's AirPlay is not supported. If you have an Apple device, one of the best apps you can install is AirScreen. It will let you mirror your iPhone, iPad, or Mac screen on your Android TV box.

AirScreen also works with Google Cast, Miracast, DLNA protocols and also supports tons of apps. This makes it an excellent all-rounder when it comes to casting your screen.

3. Plex

Another no-brainer. If you have an extensive personal collection of digital movies and TV shows, Plex is the best solution for casting them around all the screens and devices in your home.

In addition to its beautiful libraries, Plex can also automatically download subtitle files, metadata, movie artwork, viewer ratings, and more.

Aside from your personal collection, Plex gives you access to over 300 live channels and a massive catalog of movies and shows. As long as you don't want to watch your content remotely, Plex is entirely free to use.

4. YouTube TV

Another popular cord-cutting service is YouTube TV. Despite only launching in 2017, it has already racked up millions of subscribers.

YouTube has agreements in place with most of the big networks. That means you can watch channels such as CNN, Discovery, BBC News, FOX, ABC, CBS, ESPN, NBA TV, TNT, VH1, and more.

5. X-plore File Manager

It's always useful to keep a file manager installed on your device, but if you're planning to sideload apps, it's essential.

We are blessed with a good selection of file managers for Android TV. In our roundup, we recommended X-plore File Manager, Total Commander, TvExplorer, and AnExplorer File Manager.

From a sideloading perspective, we recommend X-plore File Manager. It uses a dual-pane approach, which makes it easy to transfer an APK file from a USB stick to your device's hard drive.

6. Sideload Launcher

The Google Play Store on Android TV is a slimmed-down version of the smartphone version. Some apps are not Android TV-compatible, so there aren't as many to choose from. However, the operating system is capable of running any Android app, making sideloading apps on Android TV a popular activity.

But there's an issue. Apps you sideload will not appear on your device's home screen or list of apps. The only native way to access them is via the Settings menu. Thus, the solution is to install a third-party app. Sideload Launcher is the easiest one to use. You'll see a list of all your sideloaded apps when you open it.

7. Spotify

Cable TV music channels are annoying and full of ads. And the musical experience on YouTube isn't much better unless you pay for YouTube Premium.

Spotify is the answer. It runs smoothly on Android TV, and you can control it with your Android TV remote as well as other devices that have Spotify. All you need to do is to open Spotify on another device, tap the devices icon and then select your Android TV box.

The Android TV version lacks some AI features. For instance, you can't go to a song's radio or enhance playlists. It does display song lyrics, though, and they're even better on a big screen.

Other music services with a dedicated Android TV app include Pandora and YouTube Music.

8. Google Chrome

Oddly, Google Chrome does not come pre-installed on Android TV devices. There's not even an Android TV version of the app.

Despite the lack of a store version of Chrome, you don't need to sideload it. If you head to Chrome's listing in the Google Play Store on the web, your Android TV box will be listed as a compatible device. Even if that didn't work, there are other ways you can install Google Chrome on your Android TV device.

The good thing about having Chrome on Android TV is that once you sign in with your Google Account, all your bookmarks and saved history will be available on your Android TV device.

The downside is that since Google never bothered optimizing Chrome for Android TV, you'll need a mouse and a keyboard to navigate through it.

9. Send Files to TV

Moving files from your computer or smartphone to your Android TV device is easier said than done; there is no native, user-friendly way to make it happen.

Send Files to TV is the answer. It lets you share movies, TV shows, and other files between your other devices and your Android TV box via your local network. All you need to do is to install the app on both devices and connect them to your local network.

Download: Send Files to TV (Free, in-app purchases available)

10. Photo Gallery and Screensaver

Android TV's native screensaver settings are extremely basic. And you can't even access your Google Photos library to turn it into a screensaver slideshow.

For a more feature-rich screensaver experience (which includes Google Photos integration), check out Photo Gallery and Screensaver. You can use Google Photos, Facebook, Flickr, and NASA as sources.

Download: Photo Gallery and Screensaver (Free, in-app purchases available)

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