How To Sideload Apps on an Android TV Box
Android TVs have so much potential that it almost feels like a waste to limit yourself to the officially available apps. There’s much more out there than Google Play’s repertoire. But how to get these apps on your TV? The answer lies in sideloading them onto your Android TV box.
Sideloading simply means installing apps that are not available through official channels. You can do this on Android by downloading an APK (Android Package Kit) file and installing it manually. Here’s how to sideload apps on your Android TV box or Android TV using a few different methods.
How to Sideload Apps on an Android TV Box
While the Google Play Store has a wide selection of apps, its offerings aren’t exhaustive. You don’t have to give up your favorite apps even if they aren’t available in the official store. Follow the steps below to get any app you want on your TV.
Note: You must be aware that sideloading apps is not 100% safe. Apps on Google Play are highly regulated, but the same might not apply to a file you download at your own risk. Stay vigilant while APK-hunting and always download files from trusted sources. Some reliable APK websites you can browse include the following.
- Aptoide (which also has an Android app of its own)
- APK Downloader
Step One: Enable Sideloading Apps in Your Settings
Before you can actually use sideloaded apps on your Android TV, you need to tweak your security settings. Follow these steps to enable apps from sources other than Google Play.
- Turn on your Android TV and navigate to its Settings.
- Find your “Security” or “Security & Restrictions” settings. Depending on your TV, it might be under “Device Preferences” or the “Personal” section of your Settings.
- Select “Unknown sources” on the next screen.
- Toggle the switch to enable all apps and confirm your choice in the popup.
You might need to enable individual apps as you go, depending on your system.
Step Two: Get the APK File
The next step in sideloading apps to your Android TV is getting the APK files on your device. There are many ways to get these files onto your TV. Some allow you to download them directly. For others, you’ll need your computer or phone to download the files and transfer them to your TV later. Below are some of the easiest methods to get the APK of the app you want to install on your Android TV box. Choose the solution most convenient for you.
Send the Files to Your TV
The first quick and easy method to transfer APK files requires you to download the Send Files to TV app. You’ll need this app both on your TV and Android phone (or other Android device). Follow these steps.
- Search for “Send Files to TV” in your TV’s Google Play Store and install the app.
- Download and install Send Files to TV on your Android phone.
- Download the APK file of your choice using your phone.
- Make sure your phone and TV are connected to the same network.
- Launch the Send Files to TV app on both devices.
- Select the “Receive” option on your television.
- Tap “Send” on your phone and select the APK file.
- Your TV will appear on your phone’s screen. Just tap it, and the file will be on its way.
- Once it’s transferred, navigate to your file manager app and install the APK by clicking on it.
Transfer Files With a USB Drive
Another straightforward, though less convenient, way to transfer your downloaded APKs to your TV is with a USB drive.
- Download the desired APK on your computer and transfer the file onto a USB drive.
- Insert your USB stick into your Android TV box.
- Open your television’s file manager app and find the APK in the USB drive’s folder.
- Click the APK to install it.
Turn to Cloud Solutions
If you don’t want to fumble with USB drives, you can also try getting your APK files onto your TV using cloud services. This solution is for you if you have a Google Drive or Dropbox account. Once you set it up, sending files in the future will be a breeze. However, you’ll need a file manager with cloud storage capabilities on your TV to use this method.
- Download the APK file on your phone or computer and save it on your Google Drive.
- Install an app like File Commander Manager and Cloud on your TV.
- Launch the app and click “Add Cloud.”
- Select Google Drive (or whichever cloud service you use) and connect your account.
- Once connected, you can browse your Google Drive folders on your TV.
- Find and click the APK file to install it.
Grab the File From Your Browser
If you have a link for the APK file you need, you can also download it directly on some TVs. Note that the link must prompt the download of the file for this method to work. A website link won’t work.
- Launch your TV’s browser app.
- Type the download link in the address bar and press “OK.”
- The download should start immediately if the link is correct.
- Once the download is finished, you can install the app right away.
Use the Downloader App
Not all devices support browser downloads. If yours falls into this category, you can install a handy downloader tool to bypass this restriction. This option works on pure Android TVs only.
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android TV.
- Hit the “Search” option in the sidebar and type “AFTVNEWS.”
- Install the Downloader app.
- Go to your TV’s home screen and find the Downloader app. You might need to enable it in the “Unknown sources” menu as instructed above if you can’t see it.
- Launch Downloader and type the direct download link of the APK file you want to get.
- Hit “Go” to begin the download process.
You’ll also be able to install the app immediately within the Downloader app.
Step Three: Find Your Apps
On some TVs, sideloaded apps will appear on your home screen or in your app folder as normal. On others, you may think the app you just installed is nowhere to be found. If you can’t see your sideloaded apps, you might need to enable them individually in your Security settings. The exact location of these settings may vary slightly depending on your system.
- Open your Settings, then click “Device Preferences.”
- Find “Security & restrictions” and hit “Unknown sources.”
- Toggle each app you want to allow on your device.
If this doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need the help of another application to access the sideloaded apps.
- Open your Google Play Store and hit the search button.
- Look for ATV Launcher.
- Open ATV Launcher, and you’ll see all your sideloaded apps.
Install Any App You Want
Sideloading apps on your Android TV box undoubtedly requires a bit of maneuvering. However, you’ll be able to get much more out of your device by learning how to do it. Choose the method you find the most convenient and expand the capabilities of your TV with additional apps.
Which of your favorite Android TV apps are missing from Google Play Store’s offerings? Did you manage to install them from their APK files? Let us know in the comments section below.
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