Android TV is basically Android… with a user interface optimized for TVs. It’s designed to run TV-friendly apps such as YouTube, Google Play Movies, Netflix, and Hulu Plus and when you visit the Play Store you’ll only see apps that have been optimized for Android TV.

But under the hood the operating system is much the same as the software that runs on phones and tablets, and you can sideload apps that may not be TV-friendly. You just won’t see them in the default app launcher.

That’s where developer Chainfire’s new Sideload Launcher comes in.

sideload launcher

This is basically an app launcher that shows any apps installed on your Android TV device, not just those that are optimized for the primary launcher, which Google calls the Leanback Launcher.

Chainfire says the app is useless unless you have an Android TV device such as the ADT-1 developer box or the upcoming Nexus Player. And to be honest, even if you do have one of those devices, the app might not be all that useful.

Essentially this is an app that makes it easy to run apps that are not optimized for your TV screen on a box that’s plugged into your TV screen.

While it could come in handy if you want to run apps that are available for Android phones, but which don’t yet have a leanback view, it might be tough to actually use apps designed for touchscreen phones and tablets with a remote control, gamepad, or other input device.

Android that Chinese device makers have been slapping the stock version of Android on TV boxes over the past few years. Some apps work better than others on these boxes, and one of the things that will help set the new Android TV software apart is the fact that it will run apps that are actually designed for TVs rather than phones. But it’s nice to know you can run apps which aren’t… if you really want to.

via Android Police

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4 replies on “Chainfire’s Sideload Launcher for Android TV lets you launch just about any app”

  1. I keep hoping to hear that “Android TV” is just another Android UI which any Android 5 device can express when hooked to an external display. Something similar to what Nvidia does with the shield tablet. Hook it up via HDMI and get a choice of mirrored or Leanback UI.
    That would kick so much ass…
    How much sweeter would the Nexus 9 have been if you could buy a $50 accessory dock which stood the tablet up for viewing (perhaps just a clock with notification display), charged it, and output via HDMI an Adroid TV interface to your TV.

  2. I see the Google Chrome icon. So I suppose you can use a web browser on the Nexus player. By ‘not optimized’ does that mean the app wont run at the native resolution of your TV?

    1. It can mean any number of things, but the biggest problem I’ve had trying to run phone apps on a TV is that the user interface is designed for touch, not for a remote control or even keyboard and mouse.

      Things like slide-out navigation trays, pinch to zoom, and even swipe-to-scroll just don’t work with most remote controls.

    2. What Brad said– I’ve side loaded many an app on my Google TV, which has a “mouse” thumb paid, and using slide-out trays with a mouse is not remotely an enjoyable TV experience.

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