Back in November I published the Tv App Repo, a project that would make it easy to sideload new apps by building the sideloading experience as a native app using the Leanback interface. The idea was to slowly build a collection of apps with included Leanback shortcut apps. At the time I had to generate each shortcut manually using a Python script, a process that required a lot of time. Scaling this app, getting it to do more for more people has been a big focus around this update.
I knew that this wouldn’t scale to the many types of apps that users want, and so I have been working with another developer to make this process more seamless to the users. There’s a website which lets users create and download Leanback shortcuts, and this server now is incorporated into the app.
With this new update, adding Launcher Shortcuts now work for any non-Leanback app. A new row appears, with every viable app. You can choose the ones you want to turn into Shortcuts simply by selecting it.
The entire process takes about twenty seconds. The app’s metadata will be sent to a server, where a small app is generated. The APK file is returned to the app and allows the user to install it. With this update, the install dialog should only appear once.
The shortcut appears on the homescreen, with the title and app icon. It’s not too pretty, but it does its job in redirecting users to the app. It’s more convenient to do it locally than having to remember the package name of each app and sideload the apps from your computer.
Play Store Variant
With this release, I wanted it to get to more people. The original version was only available for sideloading from the GitHub page. This was because this was effectively acting as a second app store, something that’s against the terms & conditions.
I am now publishing two versions of the Tv App Repo: a Play Store version and Community version. While the Community version still contains the hosted APKs, the Play Store removes that function. Additionally, the two versions have separate package names, so you can keep the Community version if you want or install the Play Store without the two interfering.
Both versions can be downloaded from GitHub, and you now download the app from Google Play.
I do have a few more ideas of how to improve on this idea, but let me know what you think.