Android TV: How to Install Unsupported Apps

If you have an Android TV Box at home or a Smart TV with an Android operating system, you will surely have noticed that many applications are missing. Although the base of Android TV is the same as that used on mobile devices, the level of app compatibility is much lower. The Android TV Play Store version only has 5,000 applications: or what is the same, 0.2% of all the apps available for Android.

What happens then if you want to install an app that is part of that 99.8% that is not compatible with Android TV? In such a case, you must resort to lateral loads (sideloading). Next, we explain how it works.

How to install and run unsupported apps on Android TV

The biggest compatibility issue with non-native Android TV apps is almost always for aesthetic or design reasons. At the code level, the apps can be executed without problems, but their vertical layout means that they do not display correctly on screens with horizontal or panoramic resolutions. You must also remember that television screens are not touch screens, which can also be a problem for user interaction with some applications.

That said, through the so-called “lateral loading” or sideloading, you can install any Android application on your device. Both the non-compatible apps that do not appear in the Android TV Play Store, as well as the apps from other software repositories or APK files.

Step #1: Download the APK of the app you want to install

The first thing you have to do is download the installation package of the app you are interested in. These packages are files in APK format (similar to Windows .EXE) and can be downloaded from trusted repositories, such as APK Mirror.

Therefore:

  • Go to APK Mirror from your phone or PC,
  • Locate the APK of the app you want to install and download.

If it is an app that you already have installed on your mobile, you can also use a tool such as APK Extractor to obtain the APK package of the application.

Step #2: Install File Commander on your Android TV

Go to the Play Store on your Android TV device and install the File Commander app. It is a file manager that will allow you to access resources in the cloud.

Once installed, open File Commander, and on the home page, click on “Cloud” and add your Google Drive account.File commander app

Step #3: Turn on Unknown Sources

If you have a device with Android 8.0 or higher, go to the Android TV settings menu. Navigate to “Device Preferences -> Security & Restrictions”.

Next, click on “Unknown sources” and activate the tab corresponding to “File Commander.” With this setting, you will enable the installation of APK files through the file manager you just installed.

Note: If your Android TV mounts a version lower than Android 8.0, you can achieve the same effect by going to “Settings -> Security and restrictions” and activating the “Unknown sources” box.

Step #4: Upload the APK to your Google Drive account

Now, you have to upload the APK installation package you downloaded in step #1 to your Google Drive account. To do this, you can install the Google Drive app for Android/iOS or go to drive.google.com from the browser and drag the file so that it is uploaded to your cloud account.

Step #5: Install the app on your Android TV

At this point, the magic begins. Open the File Commander app and select your Google Drive account. Select the APK you just uploaded and click on the “Install” button. The system will automatically install the non-compatible application. But beware: do not open it yet.

Step #6: Sideload the app

Normally, applications that are not compatible with Android TV do not usually appear together with the other apps you have installed. It is as if they did not exist! To solve it, go to “Settings -> Applications,” select the app from the list, and hit “Open.”

If you want to simplify this process, you can also install an app like “Sideload Launcher”, which allows you to access all those non-compatible apps much more comfortably through sideloading. Without a doubt, one of those essential apps for Android TV.

Alternative method: use your smartphone

Instead of installing the app from the cloud with Google Drive, you can also install apps that are not compatible with Android TV by sending the corresponding APK file from the mobile phone. For this, you will use an application called “Send files to TV”, a tool used to send files from the smartphone to the Smart TV wirelessly.

The process you must follow is as follows:

  • Install the “Send files to TV” app on Android TV.
  • Install the “Send files to TV” app on your mobile phone.
  • Open the app you just installed on your Android TV and click on « Receive «.
  • Now open the app on your mobile phone and click on « Send «.
  • Select the APK installation package you have previously downloaded to the phone (remember that you can use repositories such as APK Mirror).
  • Finally, choose the Android TV device as the transfer destination.

From here, you just have to open the APK file from Android television to proceed with its installation. If you’re having trouble opening the file, you can use the app we mentioned earlier, File Commander. Open the File Commander app and select “Internal Storage”. Then locate the APK package, open it and click on the “Install” button.

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