Tv App Repo Now Generates Leanback Shortcuts

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.

Shortcut Generator

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.

TV App Repo

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.

Tv App Repo

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.

TV App Repo

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.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker) Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop. Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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  • Jeffro2700

    This is fantastic. I can’t wait to get home and try it. Thanks so much!

  • rologa

    Great utility. Easy to use and works as a charm. Finally I can have a shortcut to Chrome!
    Good work!

  • Mark Kalinsky

    where did you download Family Calandar

  • RoboRobP

    Tried this on my shield tv and it crashes every open. Reinstalled and manually set the permissions in the app settings with no luck.

    • Nick Felker

      The Play Store or Community version? Community version had a weird bug that I have fixed. For the Play Store version I’ll check the crash logs.

      • Allan Farrell

        i had the same problem at first, turns out my external ssd (treated as internal) wasn’t being detected, power cycled it and worked first time.

      • RoboRobP

        it was the community version. i’ll re-download it form github when I get home tonight and try it out. thanks for looking into it.

  • Still don’t really get it… i have the play store version… how can i install chrome now on my nvidia shield?

    • Allan Farrell

      download the chrome.apk on another device or via another browser (or aptoide) onto your shield, install tv app repo, open it up, select the chrome.apk in tv app repo and it will generate the leanback launcher icon for you.

  • Allan Farrell

    would it be possible (or is ti already) to have the icons created without text so the icons graphic fill the entire icon rather then having text & icon?

    • Nick Felker

      To do so, you would need to have a custom banner created. This is possible, but would require a little more work.

  • Graham Winstanley

    New to all this. Downloaded this app because it was highly recommended but, having looked at it, I don’t know what I’m supposed to use it for. I thought Web Bookmark meant I could add eg Google link to my Nvidia Shield desktop. It did but nothing happens when I click on it.
    Plus, I can’t find any info on what a Leanback is.

    • Nick Felker

      Leanback means the launcher. You can add Leanback icons to the launcher.

      You can add a web shortcut with a given URL and it should generate a custom thing you can install on your launcher.

      • Graham Winstanley

        Thanks, Nick. Maybe I’m doing it wrong as the links I tried to create didn’t do anything.