Android TV had a great year as many apps were created and published with support for TVs. Looking back at the past twelve months, the Android TV News team decided to pick their favorite in no particular order.
Plex is a popular all-around media server for your home. A desktop program can run in the background on whatever machine you store all your home media. Then the Plex app on your TV can browse this content and play it back with low latency. It also supports casting media to your TV. The app is free on Google Play, although by paying for a Plex Pass you can unlock additional functionality such as sharing media and offline storage.
ES File Explorer
Android devices are full computers. You can plug in a mouse and you can access its file system. ES File Explorer is a popular way of doing that with a lot of options. You can read and write local files, but you can also transfer files over FTP, LAN, cloud services, and USB. There’s also a built-in web browser, making it easy to visit APK Mirror and sideload apps. ES File Explorer is free on Google Play, although there is a pro version that, for $3, removes ads and improves customization.
Notifications for Android TV
Android Wear lets you see your phone notifications on your wrist, as opposed to pulling out your phone. Notifications for Android TV does something similar by mirroring your notifications on your TV, displaying them in a small box in the bottom right corner. Perfect for those who want to sit back and watch their content without having to look away from the TV. There are plenty of options on the phone app including specific settings for each app, for when you don’t want your text messages mirrored. The app is free on Google Play.
A lot of people are leaving cable in favor of alternative services. Many channels are still broadcast over the air, meaning an antenna can pick it up. HDHomeRun is a product that picks up these TV channels and makes it easy for you to watch on your phone or laptop. It also works great on Android TV, integrating itself with Live Channels including the program guide. The app is $0.99 on Google Play, although you will also need to pick up one of the hardware units. Check out our review of the three devices.
There’s a lot of content that is available just on the Internet, to the point where a cable subscription may not be necessary. Pluto TV helps users by curating this media into live streams of videos in certain categories. There’s over a hundred channels for music, news, and other types of entertainment. The app works with Live Channels, letting you shift between TV channels from HDHomeRun and Internet channels like The Onion seamlessly. The app is free on Google Play.
This is an app that Nick wrote at the request of some users on Reddit. Users can import any web live stream to the app manually or in bulk through a playlist. These streams can then be watched through the Live Channels app. By connecting the app to a file in Google Drive, you can keep all your channels in sync. If you don’t have any streams, a few legal streams are included in the app. The app is also open sourced on GitHub. It is free on Google Play.
Twitch is a popular service for people who like to stream themselves playing video games. Last month they updated their app to include support for Android TV. Now you can browse games or channels and watch an endless supply of gaming content. The app is free on Google Play.
Formerly called the XBox Media Center, XBMC, this is a popular open source app for watching media that is available on many platforms. It shines through its add-ons system, letting you add video or music sources from hundreds of different websites from independent developers. You can customize basically everything about this app. Although it may have a high learning curve to master, it is a great tool for getting the most content possible. Kodi is free on Google Play.
Sling TV is a streaming cable package available for many platforms including Android TV. It is a fairly new service so there are still bugs being ironed out, but they are committed to supporting the cord-cutting community. This service is a must have for sport-loving cord-cutters and anyone who needs their fix of cable entertainment without the headache of dealing with a cable service. In my opinion, the best part is not having a contract. Not watching much TV? Stop your service. Big March Madness fan? Subscribe for just the month! Flexibility is key for cord-cutters and Android enthusiasts alike. The app is free on Google Play and a subscription starts at $20/month.
HopWatch for reddit
HopWatch for reddit is a great way to explore the crowd favorite media on reddit. Personally, I am an avid reddit mobile user, but rarely am I in a great position to view videos on my phone with sound. Watching those videos later on my couch makes for a much more enjoyable experience. Check out our interview with the creator and grab it for free on the Google Play Store.