Sideloading can be a pain. Google Play has a high-quality, secure service for downloading apps, and trying to navigate the process using some other means is less desirable. You may have to visit shady sites that are full of ads to download an app which you may not entirely trust. On Android TV, it’s worse. There’s no default browser, so users must either sideload one themselves or find some other sort of hacky workaround. There is no good solution.
The developer of PuppetMaster.TV has made an attempt to tackle this problem through the new app #SIDELOADTAG. By simply entering a specific tag, the app will download the APK from that URL and give you the option to install it on your device. It also scans your device for previous APKs, surfacing them in a single place for easier access and installation.
How does it work? Each tag is tied to a TinyUrl link. When you enter that code, it enters the same shortlink for TinyUrl and starts downloading the file if it is an APK. (If not, it lets you know.)
As shown above, the key
PMTVDL links to PuppetMaster.TV. What other codes work? Like with PuppetMaster.TV’s open plugin architecture, the developer is opening this app to the community. If you have an app you’d like to see on your TV, you can upload it to TinyUrl and tell others in the community by using the hashtag #SIDELOADTAG on Google+ (or wherever, probably).
After trying it out, I found it was much nicer than the current solutions: Chrome on a TV browser, Google Drive, USB. None of those are perfect. #SIDELOADTAG is a good step in reducing this frustration. While it may be limited right now, only downloading APKs and only if uploaded to TinyUrl, the app is open source and any sort of contributions are definitely welcome.