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Mark my words: Android TV is set to take the world by storm over the next few years. While devices like the Roku and Apple TV Chromecast Vs Apple TV Vs Roku: Which Media Streamer Suits You? Chromecast Vs Apple TV Vs Roku: Which Media Streamer Suits You? Media streaming devices are simply awesome. Those little boxes that connect to your TV can add a wealth of entertainment options to your living room. But which device is best for you? Read More are incredibly useful and offer lots of fantastic features, they remain relatively niche gadgets for most people.

Android TV will change all that What Is Android TV, and Why Was Google TV Killed? What Is Android TV, and Why Was Google TV Killed? Android TV is replacing the now-five-year-old Google TV. And it's not just an update -- it's a complete remake. Read More . It’s going to do for smart televisions what the mobile version of Android did for smartphones.

Whether you’re an early adopter or thinking about making your first Android TV purchase, we want to help you get the most out of your box. Here are seven amazing Android TV tricks you might not know about.

1. You Can Sideload Apps

The process of sideloading apps on your Android smartphone If You Sideload Apps, You Must Know About This Change in Android Oreo If You Sideload Apps, You Must Know About This Change in Android Oreo Many Android users know that sideloading lets you install apps from outside the Play Store. But there's a big change coming in Android 8.0 Oreo that you'll want to know about. Read More is well-documented. In short, it allows you to run apps that aren’t available through the Google Play Store.

Android TV is no different. You can sideload any APK file and have it running in a matter of seconds. This means you can access geo-blocked content and other apps that Google doesn’t allow in the Play Store.

To sideload an APK, you’ll first need to install a file manager The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android There are a bunch of file management and file exploring apps out there for Android, but these are the best. Read More . Android TV doesn’t offer one by default. One of the best is TVExplorer, a file manager exclusively designed for TVs rather than phones and tablets. You can grab it from the Play Store.

tv explorer android tv app

You should also grab Sideload Launcher or TV App Repo. These two apps allow you to launch sideloaded apps without going into the Settings menu (Sideload Launcher places all the sideloaded apps in a container, TV App Repo lets you make shortcuts for your sideloaded content in your Leanback ribbon).

Download: TVExplorer (Free)
Download: Sideload Launcher (Free)
Download: TV App Repo (Free)

2. You Can Run Android Apps in the Play Store

If you’re new to Android TV and you fire up the Play Store for the first time, you might be disappointed to discover that you don’t have access to the same range of Android apps that you can enjoy on your phone.

This is because Android TV requires a different way of coding apps. If the app in question hasn’t been adapted for the TV, Google won’t list it in the Play Store on the TV.

google play android tv app

“On the TV” is the essential part of that sentence. Why? Because you can navigate to the Play Store on your PC and install most Android apps onto your TV from there.

To make the process even easier, just install Chrome onto your TV from your computer, then use the newly-installed browser to navigate the web version of the Play Store.

Note: Because the non-TV apps haven’t been adapted for the platform, you’ll often have to use a game controller or a mouse to navigate them, rather than relying on the TV remote.

3. Voice Search

Android TV offers a universal voice search feature. What does that mean in practice? Well, you can press the voice search button on your remote control when you’re on the home screen, and it will search across all the (voice-supported) apps on your device, as well as on Chrome (if you’ve installed it).

voice search android tv app

Of course, you can also activate the search feature from within individual apps if you want to limit your results, but the universal search is the better option in most cases.

4. Your Android TV Is a Chromecast

Did you know your Android TV device doubles as Chromecast? No, it’s not some fancy workaround that lets you stream content from your laptop, there’s an actual Chromecast built-in into your set-top box.

It works automatically. You don’t need to activate anything on your TV. But many people don’t realize it’s there.

To cast content from your Android phone, swipe down on the notification bar and tap Cast. Your phone will list all your casting devices.

cast android tv app

To cast content from your laptop Chromecast vs. Miracast: The Differences and Which One You Should Choose Chromecast vs. Miracast: The Differences and Which One You Should Choose In the last couple of years, Google Chromecast has become a must-have smart TV accessory. What you probably didn't know is your smart TV has a Chromecast alternative: Miracast. Read More , you need to have Chrome installed. Click the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner, then select Cast… Again, you’ll see a list of compatible devices. Click on the down arrow next to Cast to to flick between casting your browser tab or the entire desktop.

5. Use Your Xbox or PS4 Controller

Some Android TV devices, like the Nvidia Shield 7 Reasons the Nvidia Shield Is the Ultimate Tool for Cord-Cutters 7 Reasons the Nvidia Shield Is the Ultimate Tool for Cord-Cutters The Nvidia Shield may just be the ultimate device for cord-cutters everywhere. Here are seven reasons why it beats the competition without much effort. Read More , ship with a game controller. Others don’t. If you’re planning on using Android TV to play games on your television, you’ll need a controller.

Of course, you can buy cheap Bluetooth controllers on Amazon, but if you already own an Xbox or PS4, you can pair your existing controllers with your Android box. They work flawlessly.

game controller bluetooth android tv app

To pair your controllers, go to Settings > Add Accessory on your Android TV. It will scan for Bluetooth devices within range. When it finds your controller, click on its name using your Android TV remote.

If you encounter issues, make sure your controller supports Bluetooth and that it’s running the latest firmware.

6. Install the Remote App for Your Smartphone

If your house is anything like mine, the TV remote will be an ongoing problem. One of two things happens every day: either people fight over it, or it gets lost down the back of the sofa.

The solution? Install the official Android TV remote on your smartphone. The app is developed by Google and offers all the same features as the regular remote. It’s available on both Android and iOS, but users report that the Apple version has a lot of bugs.

remote control android tv app

Best of all, the app lets you switch between D-Pad mode and Touchpad mode. In practice, it means you can use your phone as a way to operate an on-screen mouse. It means you won’t need to rely on a gaming controller for non-TV apps.

Download: Android TV Remote (Android) (Free)
Download: Android TV Remote (iOS) (Free)

7. Expand Your Storage

Some Android TV boxes are exceptionally cheap. Sure, they don’t offer the same fluid experience as top-of-the-range models, but they’re more than adequate for most users.

But there’s a problem. The cheap boxes typically have insufficient storage capacity. For example, the Mi Box, which sells for $69 on the company’s website, has made Android TV more accessible than ever. But it only offers 8GB of space.

storage android tv app

Luckily, you can add external memory to your Android TV device using a feature called Adoptable Storage.

To set it up, you’ll need an external USB storage device, or a microSD card. Then, head to Settings > Storage and reset and select the storage device. Next, click Set up as internal storage, then choose Format to complete the process. Your device will now treat your external storage the same as it does internal storage. Just remember not to remove the USB device or microSD card.

What Are Your Favorite Tricks?

In this article, we’ve shown you seven Android TV tricks. If you learn to use them all, you will be well on the way to becoming an Android TV power user.

How do you make your Android TV work for you? What features should all new users be aware of? As always, you can leave all your suggestions and thoughts in the comments below. And remember to share this article with other Android TV users on social media.

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  1. Dallas
    October 4, 2017 at 1:44 am

    Dude, tell your editor to dial back the clickbait. It's a good article, but zomg I DEFINITELY knew about all of these! Number 4 blew my mind with how much I knew about it!

    I'm betting this article is getting some solid traffic because it showed up in my Google feed. Check Chartbeat, you'll see a lot of traffic coming from Google search. But don't think for a second that its success was due to that horrible headline. People who know what Android TV is will all know about these features. So stop it! Bad MUO editor!

    • Clickbait Hate
      October 4, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Some of it isn't even correct! Cheap Android TV boxes WON'T give several of these features.
      No Chromecast
      No access via Remote App on smartphone
      Vice search - most won't.
      The list is only accurate for fully licensed (read expensive) Branded Android TV units.

      Clickbait leading to basic false information.

    • Josh
      October 4, 2017 at 10:44 am

      I 100% concur.

      Although I guess we both read the article.

      And commented.