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Saturday, November 26, 2016

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How to Sideload Apps on Android TV

Oyetoke Tobi - Saturday, November 26, 2016

Do you know that you can sideload apps on your Android TV? Yes you can. Android TV is one of the best smartTV for anyone who wishes to develop their current living room setup with smarts gadgets. It makes it easier to stream almost all content, has a lot of games that are worth playing, and is moderately cheap. 

However, what happens or how’ll you go about it if you want an app on your TV that isn’t available on Android TV?

Sideloading is the solution if you are facing this issue. So what’s Sideloading? Sideloading is simply the act of installing an application manually that isn’t available through the normal means, such as the Google Play Store or App Store. It is actually easier to carry out on most Android phones and tablets, except it is little more complicated on Android TV.

The first thing to do here is to let the system to accept app installs from outside of the Play Store. You can do this by going into the Settings menu. Click on the cog icon at the bottom side on Android TV.

Then scroll down and tap on “Security & restrictions.” Note that the screenshots below may look a little different than yours, because we’ll be using a Nexus device running on Android nougat in this tutorial. However, the process to do this is still the same.

From there, turn on the “Unknown sources” toogle button. You can do that by clicking it. So a warning dialog will appear telling you to verify what you are about to do. Just click on “Accept”.
Since the Unknown Sources is enabled, then you can proceed.

So there are three ways to sideloaded app on your Android TV device that we explained in this guide:

Using the ADB (the Android Debugging Bridge)
Using the Web Browser
Using the cloud (Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox)

However, in case you don’t have ADB set up and installed on your PC, then you can go ahead and use the cloud method. This guide will cover both, so don’t worry about that.

So we’ll install the Chrome Beta app on the Android TV for this guide. In case you already have the APK file for the app you wish to install you can go ahead and use this guide to install it. And if you’re looking for reliable and safe site for downloading Android APKs, you can use APK Mirror. It’s a reliable, legitimate and safe site for non-paid Play Store apps. 

How to Sideload Apps from the Cloud

It’s a lot easier for you to sideload Android apps through cloud storage service like OneDrive, Google Drive or even Dropbox. This saves your time in setting up the ADB on your computer and using the command line which is abit technical. Well in case you have ADB set up on your computer already, you can just use the ADB method. But if you don’t, just use this method. 

I suggest you should have a Bluetooth keyboard paired with your Android TV because you’ll be typing a lot and typing with a remote or game controller can be very frustrating and slow. But if you don’t have a Bluetooth keyboard, then get ready to start typing with your remote.

Firstly, you’ll need to install ES File Explorer from the Play Store on your Android TV. So head over to Play Store, search for it, download and install it. This is the best app for this trick, since the official Dropbox and Google Drive apps are not supported on Android TV.

Then download the APK file of the app you want to install from any Apk hosting site and save it in your OneDrive or Google Drive folder on your PC.

Now open the ES File Explorer on your Android TV, and then taps on the Network section. Then from there, select “Cloud.”

Click on the “New” button at the top right, and then choose the cloud service of your choice. Well, in this tutorial we’ll be using Google. Then log in to your cloud storage account. 

Immediately you’re all logged into your cloud storage account, your cloud storage will show up in ES File Explorer. Then select it to mount the folder.

Look for the location of the APK file you saved, and then click on it to start the download. So after its finished downloading the file, the installation dialog will come up. Just select “install” to start the installation process.


That’s it; your app is now installed on your Android TV unit.

How to Sideload Apps from a Web Browser.

This is a lot easier than sideloading from the cloud storage and adb. All what you need is a good File Explorer such as the ES File Explorer and a reliable and safe apk hosting site such as the APK Mirror or ApkPure that offers free non-paid apps.

So to use this method, make sure you have ES File Explore installed on Android TV. You can always install it from Play Store on Android TV. 

Once you have that installed, head over to one of the APK hosting site (APK Mirror, ApkPure) web browser and then search for the app you would like to install.

Then download the apk file from the site.

Now depending on how the site configured it download options, it might ask for the app you would like to take the action on. So just tap on ES File Explorer, and then wait for it to download the apk file. 

Immediately the apk file is downloaded, ES File Explorer will show a pop up giving you the options to install the app which makes things easier. So click on install and let it install. 

In case the pop up didn’t show up, just head over to the download folder in ES File Explorer, then tap on the apk file. So click on install to install it.

That’s it, very simple.

How to Sideload Apps Using ADB

In case you have ADB set up on your computer or just want to get your hands dirtier with the command line and tweaks, this best method for you. So first of all, ensure you have ADB installed and set up on your computer already.

You’ll also need to enable developer mode on your Android TV device. You can do that by heading over to the Settings menu, then scroll and select “About.”

Then scroll down to the bottom of the About menu, look for “Build” and click on it several times. You should be able see a toast notification showing you how many clicks are left you to enable the Developer Mode.

Then a new entry titled “Developer Options” settings option will be available in the “Preferences” section in the root Settings menu. So go ahead and tap on “Developer options”

Just tap on “USB Debugging” button to enable it. Then a warning dialog will appear, so just accept that. The click on Done.

Now connect your Android TV box to your PC by means of a USB cable. Then head over to the folder where the APK file you’d like to install is saved. Note: Ensure the apk file is downloaded already from the apk file hosting site.

 Then on your pc press Shift+right click on an empty space in that folder and select “Open command window here.”

So ensure your ATV box is connected. You can do that by typing the following command in the command line and pressing Enter when the command window opens:

adb devices

So if it shows up as “device,” then you’re good to go. And if not, you may have to adjust and edit your ADB setup. On the other hand, if it shows up as “unauthorized,” all you just need to do is to approve the debugging connection on your Android TV box.

After it’s connected and displaying the “device” status on your PC then you can proceed. Now type the following command in the command line to install the APK:

adb install apkname.apk

e.g

adb install chromebeta.apk

Sometimes, the Apk file name is usually long so I recommend you to rename the Apk file name which makes it easier for you to use the name in the command line. Just press enter to install the app. Wait for some few seconds for it to install the app and you’ll receive a “success” dialog in the command window once it’s finished. That’s all.

How to Open Sideloaded Apps

Unotunately, sideloaded app will not appear in the launcher unlike on Android phones or tablets. They won’t show up because they are unsupported. 

So you have to use some ways to open these sideloaded apps. There are two ways to open these apps: 

You could head over to Settings > Apps and then look for the app you want to open, then click on it and select “Open,”

Or you could just use a free app called “Sideload Launcher.” It helps you to list all apps installed on your Android TV including the sideloaded ones. You can go ahead to download and install it on Play Store.

Ater installing Sideload Launcher, open and it will show a list of all installed apps both sideloaded and the ones from the Play Store.
That’s all.



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