It’s easier than ever to watch on-demand TV shows and movies on your Android device. But what about live TV?
Yes, there are services like Sling and PlayStation Vue. However, if you know where to look, you don’t need to subscribe to their expensive plans. You can use free IPTV instead; you just need an IPTV app and an IPTV source.
What Is an IPTV App?
We’ve looked at IPTV in detail before, but we’ll summarize briefly here.
IPTV apps are a bit like Kodi; they are empty shells that can’t stream any content without some user input. You have the responsibility for adding channels, playlists, and other sources.
Typically, you cannot use the apps to watch Netflix, Hulu, or direct content from other third-party providers.
Here, we’re not interested in the best on-demand streaming apps or places to watch TV online. We are only looking at the IPTV apps themselves—see our piece on IPTV service providers for more. Specifically, we want to know what the best IPTV apps on Android are.
1. Lazy IPTV
Our first pick is Lazy IPTV. It supports M3U playlists in open-view, ZIP, and GZ formats. The app can also read playlists in the XSPF (XML Shareable Playlist) format.
Adding new content to Lazy IPTV is easy. You access content on your local file system and paste URLs directly from the web or your device’s clipboard. The app works with HTTP and UDP streams, and can play videos directly from YouTube and social network VK. There’s also a built-in audio player for internet radio channels.
Importantly for an IPTV app, it supports electronic program guides (EPGs). It can read XMLTV EPGs saved as open-view, ZIP, or GZ.
From a usability standpoint, Lazy IPTV lets you add favorites, supports nested folders, and allows you to create playlist groups. You can export your playlists if you ever decide to switch to an alternative app.
Lastly, the app’s home screen is fully customizable. You can add shortcuts to your most-watched channels and change how the content is displayed.
Download: Lazy IPTV (Free)
2. GSE Smart IPTV
GSE Smart IPTV is one of the most popular IPTV apps in the Google Play Store. It’s been downloaded more than one million times and has a 4.5-star average rating.
The app is popular for good reason. Firstly, it’s arguably the most visually pleasing IPTV app for Android. Its crisp design and cable TV-like EPG layout make it easy to forget you’re even using an app.
Second, GSE Smart IPTV is available on far more platforms than most of its competitors. You’ll find versions for Android, Android TV, iOS, and Apple TV. The app is also Chromecast-compatible. And remember, you can even install Android apps on Amazon Fire TV devices if you know how to sideload APK files.
Features-wise, GSE Smart IPTV supports EPG content in the XML, ZIP, and GZ format. It also offers native parental controls and subtitle (SRT files) support.
GSE Smart IPTV can play live streams from HTTP, HSL, M3U8, MMS, RTSP, and RTMP sources. The app is ad-supported.
Download: GSE Smart IPTV (Free)
3. Perfect Player IPTV
Perfect Player IPTV is another hugely popular app. It’s especially popular among Android TV users who are looking for an alternative to the native Live Channels app.
The app supports M3U and XSPF playlists. And if you want to add an electronic program guide, you can use XMLTV (ZIP, GZ, XZ) and JTV.
There are also a few different decoder options to choose from: Native, Software, Hardware, and Hardware Accelerated. Other features include the ability to watch locally saved content, UDP-to-HTTP proxy server support, and automatic syncing with the desktop version of the app for a consistent experience.
Like GSE Smart IPTV, Perfect Player uses a theme that’s easy on the eyes and draws its design cues from cable and satellite TV EPGs.
Note: If you’re thinking of buying an Android TV device, check out our list of essential Android TV questions before you start shopping.
Download: Perfect Player IPTV (Free)
The straightforwardly named IPTV app is the most downloaded IPTV app for Android; more than 10 million users have installed it.
As you’d expect, you can add both M3U and XSPF playlists to the app. EPG support comes in the form of XMLTV and JTV. If you have a UDP proxy (installed via your local area network), you can use the IPTV app to play multicast streams.
The app offers some customization options too. It can display the channels you’ve added in a list, grid, or tile view, depending which you prefer.
Finally, if you have a dedicated Android set-top box that you use for watching IPTV, it’s worth upgrading to the pro version. This includes a feature that allows the app to auto-start when its host device boots up. The pro version also removes ads and adds a “resume watching” feature that can auto-play your most recently watched channel.
OttPlayer comes pre-installed on some smart TVs. It should be familiar to anyone with a Sharp, Hisense, or Sony set.
A Russian developer created the app. For a long time, it was only available in Russian. Thankfully, there’s now an English version.
OttPlayer supports four streaming protocols (HLS, RTSP, TS by UDP, RTMP) and M3U playlists. It does not work with XSPF playlists. You can also customize your channel icons and add your content sources to the OttPlayer website. Adding one to the site will sync it across all your devices.
Note: You need to make an account on the website before you can use the app.
Unlike many other free IPTV apps on Android, OttPlayer is not ad-supported. It means you won’t have to wait for a channel to load while you watch those annoying “Your video will play in five seconds” messages count down to zero.
Download: OttPlayer (Free)
What About Free IPTV on Kodi?
In this roundup, we wanted to focus on apps that specialize in IPTV. Kodi can play IPTV content, but also can do so much more that we didn’t feel it was a fair comparison.
If you prefer to use Kodi, you won’t need to install any third-party Kodi add-ons. M3U playlist support is a native part of the Kodi app—you just need to add the right component.
To get up and running, head to Add-ons > My Add-ons > PVR > PVR IPTV Simple Client > Configure. Enter your M3U playlist address when prompted.
To learn more about watching live TV, check out how to watch free TV on Android TV.