How to Sideload and Install Apps on an Android Smart TV Device

Getting additional apps on your Android smart TV that are not available in the Google Play Store can enhance and customize your viewing experience. However, it requires sideloading apps, which means installing apps outside of the official app store.

Sideloading apps on an Android TV is easy once you understand the different methods. As someone who has set up numerous streaming devices, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process to get the apps you want onto any Android smart TV.

Why Sideload Apps on Android TVs

There are a few key reasons you may want to sideload apps onto your Android TV:

  • Access apps not available in the Play Store – Some popular streaming and utility apps are not available or supported on Android TVs. Sideloading gives you access to install these apps.
  • Get region-restricted apps – Certain apps are limited to specific geographic regions. By sideloading the APK files, you can bypass regional restrictions.
  • Use older app versions – Sometimes updates add bugs or remove features you want. Sideloading allows you to downgrade to older, preferred app versions.
  • Customize your setup – Sideloading opens up more apps to customize your Android TV to your needs and preferences.

Is Sideloading Apps Safe?

Sideloading apps does carry some minor security risks. You should only install apps from reputable sources, like APKMirror, rather than random sites.

As long as you stick to trusted APK sources, sideloading apps is completely safe on Android TVs. Every sideloaded app runs in a sandboxed environment just like Play Store apps.

I recommend scanning any APK file with antivirus software before installation for maximum safety. Overall, though, sideloading apps is a safe process to expand your Android TV’s capabilities.

Method 1: Send Files to TV App

The easiest way to get apps onto your Android TV is by using the “Send files to TV” app. Here are the steps:

  1. Install “Send files to TV” on both your Android phone and Android TV.
  2. Download the APK file you want to sideload onto your phone.
  3. Open the app on your phone and select your TV.
  4. Send the APK file to your TV.
  5. Open “Send files to TV” on your Android TV and install the received APK.

This method works seamlessly as long as your phone and TV are on the same Wi-Fi network. All app updates will be handled automatically by the Play Store after installation.

Method 2: Sideload Apps with USB

If you want to mass sideload apps or don’t have an Android phone available, using a USB drive is an excellent option.

Here is how to sideload apps onto Android TV using a USB drive:

  1. Insert USB drive into your computer.
  2. Download desired APK files from the web to the connected USB drive.
  3. Safely eject and insert the USB drive into your Android TV.
  4. Launch a file manager app like X-plore on your Android TV interface.
  5. Navigate to the APK files on your USB drive.
  6. Select the APK file and tap install.
  7. Launch the installed app from your Android TV’s apps menu.

This process works great for bulk app installs. Just repeat steps 5-7 for each additional APK file on the USB drive.

Method 3: ADB App Sideload

The most advanced option is sideloading apps over ADB, which requires connecting your Android TV and computer.

Here are the steps for ADB sideload:

  1. Install ADB on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.
  2. Connect your Android TV and computer to the same Wi-Fi network.
  3. Connect to your TV via ADB on the command line.
  4. Enter the “adb install app.apk” command to install your app.

ADB is extremely useful for troubleshooting or if your TV doesn’t have USB ports for app sideloading via drive. This does require comfort with the command line, but allows precise control.

Where to Get APK Files for Sideloading?

Finding APK files can be tricky since Google Play is the go-to source for Android apps.

Here are the best places to safely download APK files:

  • APKMirror – Extremely popular for downloading official APKs. Offers app update notifications.
  • APKPure – Broad app catalog with extensive version history for each app listing.
  • Github – Developers often host Android app releases on their Github profiles. Great for open source apps.
  • F-Droid – Community repository focused on free and open source Android apps. No ads or tracking.
  • ACMarket – Features cracked and modded app variants but download at your own risk.

I recommend APKMirror as the safest option. Search for your desired Android app and download the TV version if available. Otherwise, the phone APK will usually work fine.

Getting Started with App Sideloading

With so many methods, sideloading apps may seem daunting at first. I suggest starting simple with the Send Files to TV app. As you get comfortable, try the USB or ADB options for advanced control.

No matter what apps you want to install, the overall process remains straightforward. Within a few tries, you’ll be able to customize your Android TV with all your must-have apps outside of the Play Store’s limitations.

Enjoy exploring new apps and building your perfect customized streaming TV setup! Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.