Compared with other 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, Prime Video, etc. We would talk about some little known Android TV apps that are optimized for a bigger screen. Let’s begin.
File Manager & Transfer
1. Solid Explorer
There is no native file manager for your Android TV and that’s where Solid Explorer comes in. First, the dual-pane windows let you view two folders at once. This also, makes it easier to move files around. It’s the only file manager that lets you hide files. The best feature is you can even connect your Google Drive or Dropbox account and access your cloud files on your TV as well. To add to it, you can also connect your FTP/SMB server.
Solid Explorer is free with a premium upgrade available do check it out.
Install Solid Explorer (free | $1.99)
2. Send Files to TV
Sending files from your Android to the Android TV has always been a hassle. But, here is an app called Send Files to TV. It’s a simple cross-platform file sharing app with no file size limit. All you have to do is open the app on both your Android TV and smartphone. The app basically works like ShareIt wherein you have to select “Receive” on one device and “Send” on the other device.
The app is available for Windows, Firestick, Android, and AndroidTV.
Install Send Files to 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)
4. Microsoft exFAT/NTFS for USB
Even though it says Microsoft in the title, it is not made by them. Anyways, the app works 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)
Web & Media
5. TV Bro
There are a lot of good browsers for Android TV but my favorite one is TV Bro. It’s an open-source app and unlike the popular Puffin TV-Browser, TV Bro is absolutely free with zero limitations. My favorite feature is that it has a smooth scrolling option with the TV Remote. You can glide through the web pages and precisely click on links without an air mouse.
If you are a power user, you are in for a delight with the TV Bro browser. TV Bro supports video playback, multiple tabs, bookmarks, etc. Moreover, after the recent update, your browser tabs stay persistent even after a reboot.
Download TV Bro (free)
6. 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)
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)
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.
Install Plex (free)
SmartTubeNext is a YouTube client app for Android TV. Unlike the original YouTube TV app, SmartTubeNext has an interface curated for Android TV screen. Additionally, unlike the original YouTube TV, it lets you like, comment on YouTube videos, and subscribe to YouTube channels. Moreover, it never stops the video playback while you are browsing in the app.
Install SmartTubeNext (free)
ReelGood is a content aggregator app. It provides you the latest content from multiple streaming apps like Netflix, PrimeTV, HBO Max, Peacock TV, etc. It also assists the content with a small description of the plot, IMDB ratings, etc. Moreover, it also tracks the content you have watched so you stay in sync with multiple platforms.
Install Reelgood (free)
Games & Wallpaper
SteamLink is a must-have for PC gamers. It is a mirroring app that mirrors the game from your PC to 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 the NVIDIA server.
Install SteamLink (free)
12. Bluetooth Gamepad
Similar to Zank Remote, Bluetooth Gamepad lets you use your Android smartphone as a controller for your Android TV. This is an amazing app that lets you use you play games on Android TV without a gamepad. Moreover, Bluetooth Gamepad unlike other remote apps works over Bluetooth, hence there is minimal latency.
Bluetooth Gamepad doesn’t work on some of the menus. Hence, you would need to remap some of the keys using the Button Mapper app.
Download Bluetooth Gamepad (free)
Enplug is a service that provides high-quality portrait paintings as a screen saver. We, occasionally, use Enplug in our TechWiser TV videos as backdrops. It makes your Android TV look like a wall painting. To use Enplug, you just need a web browser on your Android TV. Next, just create an account on Enplug.com and set up your Android TV device.
Once done, you can just choose wallpapers from your PC and let them display like wall art on your Android TV.
App Store & VPN
14. 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)
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)
16. Google Duo
Recently, Google released the Google Duo app for Android TV. If you have a USB webcam, you can straight-up call your friends and family through your Android TV. Google Duo lets you video call with up to 32 people and during this pandemic, it’s a good way to have a family get-together.
Install Google Duo (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)
18. Zank Remote
Google’s own Android TV Remote provides you a great option to control your Android TV via an Android smartphone. However, it doesn’t provide you with options like using your phone as a mouse or cursor. For that, you can use the Zank Remote. It lets you use your Android smartphone as a normal remote as well as a mouse.
Install Zank Remote – Remote for Android TV Box (free)
Now, Google doesn’t provide Digital Wellbeing for Android TV. In case you don’t know, Digital Wellbeing is Google’s built-in app usage tracker and timer. As an alternative, I use TVUsage on my Android TV to track app timings and mostly limit over-usage. So, I have my niece who loves watching cartoon videos on YouTube and at times it’s hard to pull her away from it. So, I use the app to set a timer for YouTube. Post the elapsed time, the app displays an overlay and doesn’t allow you to continue.
20. 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 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)
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.