PSA: Android O Beta Blocks Sideloading on Android TV

Android O is focusing on a wide variety of issues to make the user experience better and more secure. One feature, uncovered by Android Police, blocks apps installing APKs until the user explicitly approves that application. Users still need to allow installing apps from unknown sources, but it would then give more control over which apps these are. It’d prevent an app from maliciously installing malware even though other apps may be okay.

This is nice in general. Users get notified, open settings, an turn on this permission. However, this only exists on phones. On Android TV, there are currently no exposed settings UI to accomplish this. Will this UI be added in a future revision? Probably. For now though, apps like App Cloner and Tv App Repo will not be functional as both try to install APK files.

To demonstrate this concept I have loaded the Android O beta onto an emulator. In this video example, I have a downloaded APK. Normally it can be selected an installed using the Package Installer. On the O beta, we are alerted that this won’t work. Trying to select “Settings” does nothing, so we can’t approve the app’s installation.

The issue also extends to sideloading in other forms. Want to install an app by navigating a file browser? Unfortunately it’s using the same APIs to request the install and it will also fail.

If you’re really eager to sideload apps on your Android TV, you should probably refrain from signing up for the beta. If you don’t mind only getting apps from the Play Store for now, then go ahead explore the new UI.

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 ( 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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  • Jaime Cruz

    This preventsme from trying out new features of Kodi, like speach! Very troublesome for now…..i hope it gets fixed soon.

  • i never found a way to side load things on android tv (nvidia shield tv) too bad is not the android mobile os version (like smart phones and tablet) where you can uninstall unknown sources easily.

    • Stephen Cornwell

      You’ve always been able to sideload apps on the Shield TV in exactly the same way as on mobile Android, you just have to enable unknown sources in the dev options.

      • i did and still no results.

        • Tinwarble

          Works fine for everyone else.

          • i guess i’m missing something then.

          • Stephen Cornwell

            You’re not exactly giving us anything to go by. Try googling “how to enable sideload apps on nvidia shield”. There are dozens and dozens of tutorials.

          • never mind i did it, but the game told me that i’ve a bad connection, which i don’t and tells me to redonwload or quit. i sideload the latest my little pony from gameloft and still no results.

          • Stephen Cornwell

            That’s an issue with the app, not Android. If the app doesn’t work on Android TV, contact the developer.

          • too much hassle, if it was only like a android emulator it’ll been solved.

          • Stephen Cornwell

            If it’s too much effort to follow instructions or send an email then I suggest you give up now.

          • i already did before we have this conversation, is like they don’t test their products thoroughly, i said before an android emulator kind works better than the android tv but without worrying about the battery dying on you, it pretty much a android mobile hook up with a hdmi to a uhd/hd tv with a charger on the mobile without frying the batteries.

          • Stephen Cornwell

            The products are tested fine, you’re trying to run a mobile app on a non-mobile device. That’s why it doesn’t appear in the store for Android TV.

            Why don’t you just install standard Android on your Shield?

          • even i did install the one for the tv, it crashed, i’m talking about the developer who made the game not the provider whom made the hardware and os.

            i would but it’s seem kind of risk too, just wish they make the mobile and tv work as the same, so developers don’t have to program two different of the same game on a single same os.

        • Stephen Cornwell

          Then you’re doing it wrong. I’ve been using sideloaded apps since the Shield launched, as have many others. There’s even an app to create a launcher for sideloaded apps on Android TV. You know non-Android TV apps don’t appear in the Leanback launcher right?

          • probably, but i feel you have to root it to use the app. on the android tv and yes, i noticed too. i just want to play a game that work on mobile but also say it work on android tv, but then it crashes after it boots up, just wanted to be simple and make it work like its mobile counterpart does.