The home screen of your Android TV device is where your apps, recommended videos, and menus live. This is also known as the launcher. The most recent redesign of the native Android TV launcher (in 2018) was widely criticized by the community.
However, it’s possible to replace the Android TV launcher on your device. It’s easy to download an alternative option with different menus, fonts, layouts, and more. And with that in mind, here are the best Android TV launcher apps to consider using.
1. Ugoos TV
The most popular launcher for Android TV is arguably Ugoos TV.
The user interface marks a significant break from the Android TV launcher that you’re used to using. On the left-hand side of the screen, you will see a scrolling wheel that lets you browse through broad categories (for example, All Apps, Internet, Games, Options, and so on.).
There are nine categories in total. Any apps that fall under the highlighted category will appear on the right-hand side of the screen for you to select and open.
Ugoos TV has nine different themes and supports customizable backgrounds, customizable icons, and adaptive remote controls.
Download: Ugoos TV (Free)
2. TvHome Launcher
If you have a smart TV from Samsung or LG that runs either TizenOS or webOS, the layout of TvHome Launcher will be instantly familiar. Indeed, if you want to recreate the smart TV experience, TvHome is one the best Android TV launchers you’ll find.
All of your apps are displayed along the bottom of the screen in a minimalist single line. You can scroll through the list using the left and right buttons on your Android TV remote control. The background image is customizable.
TvHome Launcher is also notable for its minimal drain on your system’s resources. If you have a cheaper, underpowered Android TV box, this launcher is definitely worth checking out.
Download: TvHome Launcher (Free)
3. Simple TV Launcher
Simple TV is another minimalist Android TV launcher.
There are six spaces for apps on the main screen. You can choose the apps that appear in the slots. If you need to access your complete list of apps, click on the corresponding icon in the upper left-hand corner.
In the lower right-hand corner, you’ll find an icon that lets you jump directly into your Android TV’s settings menu.
Simple TV Launcher is open source—you can find the source code on GitHub. If you have sufficient time and knowledge, you can use the launcher as the basis for your own creation.
Download: Simple TV Launcher (Free)
In the introduction, we mentioned that the current version of the native Android TV launcher has irked many users. It’s not as easy to use use or as aesthetically pleasing as the previous iteration.
Alas, if you would like to roll back to the older visuals, you’re in luck. The HALauncher app closely mimics the previous design; you’ll find your apps in one row and your games in another.
HALauncher also has one massive benefit over the official launcher: it supports sideloaded apps on its home screen. That means you won’t need to use a fiddly workaround to access sideloaded apps on your Android TV box.
Lastly, like many of the other launchers on this list, HALauncher lets you add your own background image.
Download: HALauncher (Free)
5. UNICA TV Launcher
UNICA TV Launcher introduces its own design and visuals, but that’s not the main reason you should install it.
This launcher is especially worth trying if you typically use a remote with a D-pad to control your Android TV box. UNICA TV has D-pad-optimized navigation.
You will see your Android TV apps displayed in four columns. For easier navigation, you can add apps to custom categories. The categories are accessible via the shortcuts on the bottom of the screen.
There’s also a most-used apps section for quick access to your favorite content, as well as custom wallpapers.
UNICA TV Launcher is free for 14 days. However, after that you will need to purchase a full license for a few dollars if you want to customize categories and remove the nag screen.
Download: UNICA TV Launcher (Free)
6. Top TV Launcher 2
If you want to enjoy complete control over the way your home screen looks, we think Top TV Launcher 2 is the best Android TV launcher for your needs.
It has a built-in layout editor; you can use it to place apps anywhere on the screen, as well as adding widgets and tiles. You can even create your own tiles using the built-in tile editor, or by adding an ICO file or an image.
There’s also the option to add multiple apps to a single tile for a folder-esque experience, support for PIN-protected apps, and custom wallpaper options.
Top TV Launcher 2 is ad-free.
Download: Top TV Launcher 2 (Free)
7. Android TV Launcher
We end with the official Android TV Launcher by Google. Depending on the Android TV box you own, there’s a chance that the official Google launcher is not already pre-loaded.
There have been numerous complaints about the launcher from a design and usability perspective, but we know from experience that some manufacturer-made launchers are infinitely worse.
And besides, there’s always something to be said for running stock Android in any form. Doing so means you can be confident that it will work as expected, and it’s unlikely to crash.
Android TV Launcher is free to download.
Download: Android TV Launcher (Free)
How to Sideload Apps on Android TV
Some Android TV boxes don’t come with Google Play installed. If that’s the case, you might struggle to install the launchers we have discussed onto your device. Instead, you will need to sideload them.
Typically, there are three ways to sideload apps on Android TV:
- Use the web version of the Google Play Store and select your device from the dropdown list.
- Download the APK using a browser on Android TV.
- Transfer the APK to your device using a USB stick.
If you want to learn more, check out how to access sideloaded apps on Android TV. And remember, there are some essential Android TV apps you need to sideload. So learning how to do it is a valuable lesson.
Some apps don’t require sideloading. You can install Google Chrome on Android TV with minimal effort.