APK installation and ADB sideload methods explained


Android TV might not be perfect, but it is one of the better smart TV platforms out there. It gives you access to many apps and games, most of which you can download from the Google Play Store. However, some Android TV apps are not available through Google Play. Fortunately, you can sideload apps on Android TV devices, just like you can sideload apps on Android smartphones and tablets. Sideloading on Android TV is not as easy as with smartphones or tablets, but it is also not very demanding.

If you’re not sure how to sideload an app on Android TV, this article will discuss two of the best ways to do it.

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Important: You should only install APKs or app bundles that have been downloaded from trusted sources.

Sideloading of apps with Send Files to TV

While you can use a web browser like JioPages to download APK files directly to your Android TV, it is a hassle unless you have a keyboard and mouse connected to the TV. Hence, it is better to download the APK files to your Android phone or computer and then transfer them to your Android TV.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the Send Files to TV (SFTTV) app. It is available in the Google Play Store for both Android smartphones and Android TVs.

If you’re trying to install an app bundle, you’ll need to use an app like the APKMirror Installer on your TV to install it. APKMirror Installer allows you to install .apkm, .xapk, and .apks app bundle files.

While Send Files to TV is a quick and easy way to send APK files for installation on your Android TV, you can also use an app like the X-plore File Manager, which has built-in Wi-Fi file sharing for sharing Files from your Android phone to your Android TV. However, the rest of the process remains the same.

You can also use cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive to upload APK files from your PC or smartphone and then download them using a file manager that supports cloud storage services.

Use ADB to sideload apps on Android TV

Once you are comfortable with the command line, ADB is one of the easiest ways to sideload apps on your Android TV. As long as you’ve set up ADB on your PC or Mac, you don’t need any additional software to load apps onto your Android TV.

  • If you haven’t already set up ADB on your PC or Mac, follow our explanation on how to install ADB to do it now.
  • Go over to settings on your Android TV to activate it USB debugging.
  • To do this, you have to activate it first Developer options. You can do this by tapping Build number seven times or more until you see this You are a developer now prompt.
  • Navigate to Settings> Device Settings> Developer Options and activate USB debugging.
  • You are now ready to side-load apps. We use ADB Wireless so you don’t need a USB cable to connect to your Android TV. As long as your Android TV and computer are on the same wireless network, you’re good to go.
  • Now you need to find the IP address of your Android TV. To do this, go to Settings> Network & Internet and tap on the active Wi-Fi connection (or Ethernet if you’re using it) and you’ll see an IP address. Make a note of this IP as we will use it to run ADB on your TV wirelessly.
  • Open the command line on your PC or Mac and run “ADB connect” (without the quotes) followed by the IP address you wrote down from your TV. Example: adb connect
  • The first time you connect, your Android TV will ask you to allow USB debugging from your computer. You can choose Always allow from this computer to make it easy for the future.
  • Once authorized, your Android TV will appear when you run the ADB Devices command.

ADB installation

  • Now use the “ADB install” command followed by the APK file name. You may need to provide the full path depending on where the APK file is located. Example: adb install com.github.android.apk
  • If you’re trying to install an app bundle, extract the APKs from the bundle on your PC or Mac using an archiving program. The bundle can contain a base APK and various resource APKs for various binary application interfaces (ABIs), languages, and screen DPIs. Then you need to choose the right APKs for your TV based on the ABI and DPI data from the extracted APKs. If you don’t select the correct APKs, you will get an error message as you can see in the screenshot below. Make sure to put the extracted APK files in the Platform Tools or ADB folder for easy access. You can also rename them if you want. Alternatively, once you’ve set up the ADB path / alias, you can also run ADB directly from the folder that contains the extracted APKs.

ADB install several

  • Then use the command “adb install-multiple” followed by the APK file name. Example: adb install-multiple base.apk split_config.armeabi_v7a.apk split_config.tvdpi.apk

Depending on the file size, the command takes a few seconds and installs the app on your Android TV.

Side-loaded apps are not displayed in the Android TV app drawer?

Sometimes after sideloading an Android app on your TV, you will find that the icon does not appear in the app drawer. This is because Android TV requires apps with a Leanback Icon to be used with the TV’s Leanback Launcher, and if you’ve installed an app for phones and tablets, it doesn’t have a Leanback Icon. So, you’ll need to use an app like Sideload Launcher to view the sideload apps.

These are two of the easiest ways to sideload apps on your Android TV. However, if you install apps that are primarily designed for phones or tablets, you may not get the best experience using them on your TV. Also, some apps may not work at all or you may have orientation problems.

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