The Android TV is like a magic lantern, every time you rub it a new app pops up. Just kidding, but compared with other media streaming devices like FireStick, Roku, etc, Android TV has a lot more apps which makes it a more desirable choice when you want more than just a media box. I have made a list of some of the best apps for Android TV that would actually offer something ‘out of the box’. So, we’ll not cover popular apps like Netflix, Hulu, Kodi, etc, rather some little known Android TV apps that are optimized for a bigger screen. Let’s begin.
Following apps were tested on Mi Box S and Nvidia Sheild TV
Best Android TV Apps
Whenever your TV is idle, Clocks app adds a screensaver to your Android TV automatically. I prefer the minimal wall clock but you can choose from a few different styles of both Analog and Digital Clock Faces. It even has a Grandfather Clock face with a swinging pendulum. And the best part is, you can also set an alarm with it.
Install Clocks ($0.99)
2. Notifications for Android TV
This app comes in handy as you can just drop your phone on the nightstand to charge and still be aware of any new notifications that arrive on your smartphone. You just have to install the app on both the devices (TV and smartphone) and forget about it. The notifications are non-intrusive, take only a small portion of the screen, and then quickly disappear after a few seconds. Nice.
Install Notifications for Android TV (free)
So you’re sitting in front of the TV and you get a notification on your TV that the remote machine at your work is not functioning properly and you need to remotely log in to check it out. Guess what, you can now remotely log in to any device using TeamViewer on Android TV and vice versa. Just log in with the same TeamViewer credentials as on the other machine and your Android TV is ready for the remote connection. But the best part is remote file access. Just like on PC, we also get file manager support which gives you access to both internal and external storage on your Android TV device.
Unlike NVIDIA Shield TV, you can’t record the gameplay natively on Mi Box S but you can use TeamViewer to record the screen of any Android TV without much fuss.
Install TeamViewer Host (free)
SteamLink is a must-have for PC gamers. It is a mirroring app which mirrors the game from your PC to the Android TV, as long as both are connected to the same WiFi network. You can simply connect the Steam Controller or any other Bluetooth Controller to start playing. Do keep in mind, Steam Link isn’t the only option to stream PC games on Android TV. If you have an NVIDIA Shield TV, you can also use NVIDIA GeForce Now to stream games directly from NVIDIA server.
Install SteamLink (free)
5. Android TV Remote
Physical Remotes are bound to run out of batteries or get lost between your couch. And until you find it, you can use this app. It becomes super easy to type using this remote app because you know how terrible the typing on Android TV really is. Even if you didn’t lose your remote, it is still a must-have app for your Android TV.
Install Android TV Remote (free)
6. Puffin TV
The web browsing experience on an Android TV is terrible mainly due to lack of sophisticated controls. That’s why Chrome isn’t pre-installed on most of the Android-based media players but don’t let that stop you. Puffin TV browser is specifically made so that you can have a fluid web experience on your TV using just the humble remote. The UI is customized for widescreen TV, you can easily navigate through different parts of the webpage using the D-Pad on the remote and enter URLs like a pro using the voice command.
Install Puffin TV (free)
HALauncher is one of the most popular app launchers for Android TV. Based on the Material design it blends really well with the Android Interface, the launcher is highly customizable which means you can change the look and feel of the launcher according to your preferences. The best part about this launcher is that it lets you use sideloaded apps on your Android TV which you would frequently do if you’re going to look for apps for the Android TV.
Install HALauncher (free)
There is no native file manager for your Android TV. And that’s where XPlore comes in. While it doesn’t have the best-looking interface, XPlore provides a perfect balance between features and ease of access. The dual-pane window lets you view two folders at once and also makes it easier to move files around. You can access and modify files within the system, you can copy files from the local network using the Wi-Fi, share files over the network and even set up an SSH server for File Transfer.
Install XPlore (free)
9. 365 Body Workout
Okay, enough lazing around on the couch, it’s time to get in shape. If you’ve used any home exercise apps on your Android smartphone then you would know how hard it is to maintain the form during a workout while looking at a small screen. Well, 365 Body Workout solves this problem. You can use your TV as a guide to help work out efficiently. It has a tailored list of workout routines to help get in shape and you can use it all year round.
Install 365 Body Workout (free)
10. Microsoft exFAT/NTFS for USB
Even though it says Microsoft in the title, it is not made by them. However, the app does work and you can use it to watch your favorite movies and TV shows from the Hard disk. Yes, you read it right, this app allows you to mount the HDD on your Android TV. Android TV doesn’t support NTFS or exFAT formats natively which are exclusive to Windows and Mac respectively. So even if you use your HDD with Mac or a Windows computer, you’ll be able to explore the files on it.
But all isn’t hunky-dory with the app, you can only access the contents of your HDD after purchasing access to individual file formats or you can buy the complete pack for $1.99.
Install exFAT/ NTFS for USB (free, $1.99)
Hear me out on this, Spotify is not just amazing because of its music recommendations and tricks, it also has slick compatibility across all major platforms. You can virtually control the music from any device with an internet connection. You can start a playlist on your phone, smartwatch, computer or TV, the experience is always seamless.
Install Spotify (free)
12. WiFi File Explorer
Wifi File Explorer, as the name suggests, lets you share files between your Android TV and your computer or smartphone over WiFi. You just need to install an app on the Android TV and run the server, after that just open the URL in the web browser on the other device and just drop the files to instantly transfer. This app will come in handy when you’re sideloading apps to your Android TV.
The only caveat with this app is a 50MB file limit on the free version which you can remove by upgrading to the paid app that costs $0.99.
Install WiFi File Explorer (free, $0.99)
13. Aptoide TV
Sideloading apps on your Android TV is not easy. However, you don’t have to manually extract or download an APK and then transfer it to the Android TV every time you want to install unoptimized apps on Android TV. Aptoide TV is a one-stop-shop for all the app which are not available on the Play Store for Android TV. It works as an alternate Play Store. Just download the app from their website and sideload it on the Android TV and you’re all set.
Install Aptoide TV (free)
“Magic TV remote in my hand, which is the best app for videos in the (Android) land?”, “NeverThink”. It is a video app which offers you a curated list of YouTube videos which you would otherwise wouldn’t discover organically. The app has close to 45 different channels each unique in itself, you get a healthy variation of videos ranging from cute, educational, entertaining, to news, ASMR, history, etc. If you’re unsure of what to watch, NeverThink it.
Related: How to Upload Audio on YouTube
Install NeverThink (free)
While you can always ask the Google Assistant on your Android TV about the weather outside, you should definitely check out this full-fledged weather app. AccuWeather gives you Accurate weather forecasts, real-time alerts, and severe weather warnings right on your TV. You can customize the local weather forecasts, find forecasts for upcoming weeks, and get customized alerts for your local area.
Install AccuWeather (free)
I can not stress enough how much you need a VPN on every device including your Android TV. With a VPN app on your Android TV, you can remove geo-restriction on sites like Netflix and Hulu. Simply install the VPN app, login, choose a server and go back to the streaming service. For instance, I use the Nord VPN to watch ‘The Office US’ on my Sheild TV.
NordVPN is one of the popular VPN services that offer high-speed browsing, no logs policy, and multi-grade encryption. You can connect 6 devices at a time and browse safely over the internet. If you’re not sure about the app, you can get your money back within 30 days no questions asked.
Install NordVPN (free trial, $2.99/mo)
Android TV is in no sense a hardcore gaming device but you could still mirror your games using SteamLink. However, Android TV is powerful enough to play casual games with multiplayer support as well. AirConsole is an all-in-one app which lets you use the smartphones as controllers and the TV as the Game Screen. You can play all sorts of casual games with your friends and family. Just make sure the devices are on the same network and connected to the TV.
Install AirConsole (free)
Now, I know a lot of you already use Plex like a pro but there are always people discovering it for the first time. If you’ve never used Plex before then you should probably check out the setup instructions first. Plex is a media system for your home which allows you to access media content from a server. You can use Plex with your Android TV to consume all the content on your TV. It is as simple as using it on any other device. Plex is free and offers additional features as in-app purchases.
Related: 10 Best Plex Plugins to use in 2019
Install Plex (free)
What do you think of these apps for Android TV, let us know in the comments below? If you have a better suggestion, drop a tweet on my Twitter.