Android TV serves as Google’s platform for the smart TV. What makes it smarter than other devices? In addition to having built-in software for certain functions and services, it serves as an open platform for anybody to build software and publish it through the Google Play Store. There are also additional ways to sideload software onto your device, such as #SIDELOADTAG.
Android apps exist as APK (Android application package) files. These are very similar to a ZIP file, but specific types of resources to make it easy for the system to process and display the app on the homescreen.
We have numerous articles on Android TV apps including links to the Play Store to make it easy to install on your device, organized by category. Check out our YouTube playlist of apps.
When you’re reading about Android TV apps, you may hear about “Leanback” but not know what that means. Android TV’s homescreen is called the “Leanback Launcher”, due to its design being optimized for a “leanback”, 10-foot away interface. Instead of interacting on a touchscreen in front of you with your finger, you use a remote control far away. To help app developers port their content to a “Leanback UI”, there is the Leanback Library which uses a set of common interfaces for a consistent browsing experience.
In order for an app to appear on the TV homescreen, it needs to explicitly be included in the application manifest that it supports the launcher. Additionally instead of an app icon, it displays an app banner, a 320×180 image which also contains the title of the app.
<action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
<category android:name="android.intent.category.LEANBACK_LAUNCHER" />
Live Channel Apps
Live Channels uses the TV Input Framework built into Android TV which seamlessly combines live TV with channels created by any app. It is an amazing cordcutting app which still maintains the Live TV experience. We have a list of apps which support Live Channels that we continue to update.