How to Sideload Apps on Smart TVs

One of the great things about having a smart TV rather than a standard television is that you can install new apps and software to unlock expanded functionality. And, now that most smart TVs run on the Android platform, there are more apps than ever available for these devices. Features can include everything from performing calculations to file transfers to streaming content.

Before you start configuring your smart TV, there are two distinct types of Android systems you need to be aware of.

  1. The standard Android OS, which is found on most smartphones and tablets and has a massive range of apps available for it.
  2. Android TV, which is a version of the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) optimized for use on smart TV and displaying at a large resolution.

Of the two, Android TV is used far less than its ubiquitous mobile counterpart. Unfortunately, this means that the selection of apps natively available to smart TVs can be somewhat disappointing. But worry not! It’s easy to install regular Android apps on Android TV via a process called “sideloading”. In this article, we’ll explain what this process entails and then provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to sideload apps on smart TVs.

What Is Sideloading?

When you install an app on Android, you typically open up the Play Store, search for the app you want, then install it with a single tap or click. This is the quickest, easiest, and safest way to install an app onto your device. However, as we mentioned before, the selection may be limited if you’re using a niche platform like Android TV. This is because app developers must create a special version of their app to make it work properly on both Android TV and stock Android.

This is a lot of extra work, so many developers don’t bother when the market isn’t big enough to justify the effort. But that doesn’t mean that Android apps won’t work on your Android TV! Many apps will work just fine on both version, though you may experience some issues with scaling or compatibility.

It’s all made possible through sideloading which, in the simplest of terms, refers to any installation process that doesn’t use the Play Store interface. This isn’t a form of hacking or cheating the system, either, as developers will often provide .apks to beta testers with the express intention of installing it before it hits the Play Store. In fact, this freedom is an integral aspect of Android’s open-source environment.

Are There Risks When Sideloading Apps?

When you sideload an app, you are granting it permission to access the nuts and bolts of your device’s operating system and hardware. Because the software has not yet been vetted and checked by the Play Store, you need to exercise elevated levels of caution and discretion. Sideloading a dodgy file could mean handing the keys to your privacy and personal data over to hackers and criminals.

This is especially a problem with apps that have downloaded illegally for free via torrents or other unofficial channels. If you are going to sideload an app, you need to be absolutely sure that you trust the place that you got the installation file from. You should be careful to only ever use .apk files from known and trusted sources when you sideload an app.

How To Sideload An App On A Smart TV

Before beginning the sideloading process, there are a few steps you must take to prepare your device. Once those are completed, you have two different methods to actually install your software.

First Enable Unknown Sources And Install Essential Apps

The Unknown Sources option controls whether or not your Android device will allow the installation of apps from sources other than the Play Store, so we need to enable this first. We also need to install a couple of apps to make the sideload process easier: a sideload launcher to let you access your apps once you’ve installed them, and a file manager to make it easier to browse the files on your device.

How to enable Unknown Sources:

  1. Start off on your Android TV’s home page
  2. Navigate to the Settings menu
  3. Go to the Personal tab, and find the option for Security (this can be in different locations depending on the system. You might find it under Security & Restrictions)
  4. You’ll see a setting for Unknown sources. Make sure that this is toggled On
  5. Now you’ll be able to install apps from sources other than the Play Store!

Next you need to install software that lets you access the apps that you are going to sideload. You can use a verified app like Sideload Launcher – Android TV.

It also helps to have a file manager app so that you can view and copy files on your Android TV. We recommend an app like File Manager + which is free and can be installed from the Play Store.

Make a final check to ensure you have:

  • Unknown sources enabled
  • Sideload launcher installed
  • File manager installed

With each item on that list checked off, you’re ready to start sideloading apps onto your Android TV!

Method #1 – Install Apps From Your Browser

There’s a quick and easy way to install apps onto any of your Android devices right from your web browser. This doesn’t always work, as it depends on whether the app has official support for Android TV, but it’s worth a shot.

To do this, browse for the app you want on any web browser on any device. As long as you are logged into your Google account, you’ll be able to send apps from your browser to your Android device for installation. Here’s what to do:

  1. Using another device, like your computer, open up your web browser of choice
  2. Go to the Google Play Store
  3. Search for the app that you want using the search bar at the top of the page
  4. Once you’ve found the app you want, click on it to bring up the app information page
  5. If you don’t have this app installed on your current device, you’ll see a green button that says Install. Click on this
  6. You’ll be promoted to log into your Google account. Log in as usual
  7. Now you’ll see a window with a drop down menu where you can see the names of all of your Android devices. Select your smart TV from the drop down menu, and click Install
  8. You’ll see a notification that the app will be installed on your smart TV. Click on OK
  9. Now power on your smart TV and make sure that it’s connected to the internet. After a minute or two, the software will be installed on your device and become ready to use

If this doesn’t work and you see a message that the app is incompatible with the device you selected, then try the next method below.

Method #2 – Sideload Apps Using A Flash Drive

The second way to sideload an app onto your smart TV is to use the USB port. If your device has a full size USB port then you can install files from a standard flash drive, but if you only have a micro USB port then you’ll need an adaptor or a hard drive that uses micro USB to transfer your files.

Here are the instructions:

  1. Find the .apk file for the app that you want to install. As we mentioned before, you want to be very careful to only use .apk files from sources that you trust. One popular site for downloading apps that is generally considered trustworthy is https://www.apkmirror.com/
  2. Download the .apk file onto your computer and copy it to a flash drive
  3. Plug the flash drive into your smart TV
  4. You should see a notification that lets you open the flash drive to view its content on your Android TV. Make sure that you have a file manager app installed and open the flash drive folder to view the files
  5. Find the .apk file and select it
  6. Now click on Install
  7. The installation process will begin. Once it is complete, you can use the Sideload Launcher app to launch the new app you just installed

Recommended Precaution – Use A VPN To Protect Yourself When Sideloading

If you’re going to sideload apps onto your smart TV (and especially if you’re going to install apps from legally grey sources) then you should take steps to protect your device and your network from malicious code and hackers. One of the best ways to do that is to install a VPN onto your Android device. A virtual private network encrypts all of the traffic that your device sends and receives over the internet, making it very difficult (if not impossible) for outside observers to intercept, view, or steal your sensitive information.

In addition to these security benefits, smart TV users will love being able to bypass region locks to access content they otherwise couldn’t. Whether you’re trying to watch BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, or access Netflix catalogues from other countries, a VPN can make it happen. In other words, you’ll get access to a whole lot more content on your smart TV!

Here are two excellent VPNs which offer full support for Android TV devices:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a massively popular VPN due to its combination of fast connections, easy to use software, and high level of security. All the essential features are there, including 256-bit AES encryption, a strict no-logging policy, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and even an IP address checker.

Their server network is extensive, numbering more than 1500 across 94 different countries worldwide. Super-fast and stable connection speeds thoroughly earn this provider’s “Express” namesake, and provide for an exceptional streaming experience. What’s more, their sleek, lightweight app can be installed on a variety of devices, including Windows, Mac OS, Linus, iOS, some game consoles, and of course Android and Android TV.

 

Read our full ExpressVPN review here.

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2. IPVanish

IPVanish is leading VPN which is tailor-made for smart TV users, who value smooth HD streams free from buffering above all. These lightning-fast connect speeds don’t come at a compromise to security either. IPVanish offers a generous suite of features, including 256-bit AES encryption, zero logging, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, periodic IP address changes, and robust DNS configuration options.

Their massive network (more than 1000 servers in 60 countries) will ensure region blocks are a thing of the past, allowing you to stream virtually whatever you want. The Android app gives you lots of detailed information like a graph on the home page to show your connection status, and is also available for Android TV. See this guide for more information on how to install IPVanish on Android or for Android TV. You can even install the software on Windows, Mac OS, Linux and more!

Read our full IPVanish review here.

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Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to install an app from the standard Play Store onto your Android TV device, or want to delve into the vast world of flashing bootloaders, kernels and custom roms, sideloading is your ticket. In fact, this valuable skill is an integral aspect of the Android experience, as it enables the wonderful open-source environment that is so lacking in other mainstream ecosystems.

Sure, not every app will work on Android TV, but most of them will install just fine or with only some small issues. Just remember to make sure that the .apk file you use to install the app is from a trustworthy source.

Have you tried sideloading apps onto your Android TV? Has it worked well for you? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.

Read How to Sideload Apps on Smart TVs by Georgina Jones on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Check If Your Android Phone Is Google Certified

Android OS is developed by Google and a good chunk of features and services that run on Android are powered by Google apps. The Google Play Store is where most Android users download apps from and it has its own set of problems with fake and counterfeit apps. For years, Android has had to struggle with a reputation of being prone to spam and security problems. To combat this, Google has outlined certain requirements that devices must meet in order to run Android. If a device doesn’t meet these requirements, the Android that runs on them comes with restrictions. If you’re in the market for a new Android device, you might want to check if  your Android Phone is Google certified or not.

Google Certified Android Phone

It’s ridiculously easy to check if your Android phone is Google Certified. Google has published an exhaustive list of devices that are certified and you can download it. The file can be downloaded in both PDF and CSV format. Google provides instructions on how to use the file.

The devices are listed first by manufacturer name, and the manufacturer’s are listed in alphabetical order. Each device is listed under its manufacturer’s name. If you’re not sure what your device name is, you can use the search feature in your browser, or in Google Sheets, or your preferred PDF viewer to search for the manufacturer name.

If you know what your device’s name is, you can search for it instead of the manufacturer name. If the device is listed, you have a Google certified Android phone.

Uncertified Devices

A while back, we did a post on fixing the ‘Device is not certified by Google’ error on Android device. This error is just one example of the restrictions that come with owning and using an uncertified Android device. You might run into other problems particularly with other Google services.

An uncertified device won’t suffer in terms of hardware. If the device is running the hardware it claims it, it ought to work fine. Problems only arise when it comes to using Google powered services like the Google Play Store or Google Assistant. If you plan on using services like Google Pay, you should get a device that is certified by Google. A certified device is the best way to go. It will be more secure, and in the long run, you’ll be able to avoid unforeseen problems that might arise when using a service that requires a certified device.

Read How To Check If Your Android Phone Is Google Certified by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Turn Off Quick Add On Snapchat For Your Account

Snapchat introduced snapcodes as a quick way to add friends on Snapchat. It later expanded snapcodes to work for websites as well. Predictably, this particular feature has been copied by Facebook Messenger. Snapcodes are basically Snapchat branded QR codes that are easier to use than your username when it comes to adding you on Snapchat. Another quick way to add friends on Snapchat is the Quick Add method. Quick Add on Snapchat is like Facebook suggesting you should add your friends of friends. This means you appear as a suggested friend to other people. If you’d like to turn off quick add on Snapchat, and prevent other people from seeing you appear as a suggested friend, you can.

Quick Add On Snapchat

Open Snapchat and tap the image/thumbnail at the top left. It switches between your Bitmoji avatar, and the most recent photo you posted to your Snapchat story. On your profile screen, tap the cog wheel button at the top. This will take you to your settings.

On the Settings screen, scroll down to the Who Can section, and tap ‘See Me in Quick Add’. On the Quick Add screen, turn the Show me in ‘Quick Add option off’.

From this point forward, friends of your friends will not see your account appear as a suggested friend to add on Snapchat. This doesn’t mean that everything you post to Snapchat will be restricted to your friends. This setting will not change the visibility of anything else that you post on Snapchat.

Limitations

Even though you’ve turned off quick add on Snapchat for your account, you will still see suggestions under quick add when you search for new friends to add. This setting that you turned off controls your account’s visibility but it does not enable or disable the feature. Additionally, if you’ve shared your snapcode with someone, or they get a hold of it somehow, they will be able to add you on Snapchat by scanning the snapcode. There is no way to hide or disable add by snapcode. It’s something that is one of the more successful features of Snapchat and at the end of the day, the app is a social media app. It’s going to make it as easy as possible to add more friends.

If you want to prevent people from adding you via snapcode, you’re going to have to be vigilant about where you share it. For example, you need to make sure you don’t post screenshots of it anywhere, and that your friends who can see your snapcode aren’t likely to share it with anyone else.

Read How To Turn Off Quick Add On Snapchat For Your Account by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Control Graphics Settings On PUBG For Android

PC games are built to run on different settings. There are systems with varying capabilities and hardware so games, particularly big titles, will include settings that allow people to play even if their hardware isn’t the best in the market. With mobile games, this is a bit harder to manage; not all of them have powerful processors, not all of them have good screens, some might catch fire, and others might be running an older version of the OS. With Player Unknowns’ Battlegrounds’ mobile version, the same constraints apply. If you’r playing on an iPhone, you have to stick to the default FPS and graphics settings. On Android though, you can install Graphics Tool for PUBG and control graphics settings on PUGB. You do not need a rooted device for this.

FPS And Graphics Settings On PUBG

Download Graphics Tool for PUBG and open it. It’s a good idea to check what your device’s screen resolution is before you set about changing the graphics settings on PUBG with this app.

The app lets you set the screen resolution under ‘Graphics’, the FPS, the HD style, and enable or disable shadows. Those are all the controls the app has to offer. Select a setting from those that are available and click the Accept button to apply them.

That’s about it. Quit and start the game and play it like you normally do. You may or may not see some improvement. The app may force the game to look better but remember that your processor will still play a part in how good any game will look. What we’re saying is, if you’re playing this game on a Nokia 3, don’t compare it with your friend who’s playing it on a Samsung S9+.

In-Game Graphics

PUBG has in-game graphics settings too. They’re not the same as the ones Graphics Tool for PUBG gives you but you might want to check them out nevertheless. Open the game on your phone, and tap the cog wheel button at the top right.

On the Settings screen, go to Graphics. Customize whatever graphics settings are available to you. If your device is a mid-range phone, or a budget phone, the Ultra HD option may not appear in the game settings. If you change any of these settings, you will have to quit the game, and start it all over again for the new settings to be applied.

If the settings don’t look good, you can reset them by tapping the Reset Screen button at the bottom of this screen.

Read How To Control Graphics Settings On PUBG For Android by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Fix PUBG Naked Avatar On Mobile

Player Unknowns’ Battleground is a popular game from 2017 that was released for Android and iOS this year. The mobile version of the game has been a hit though iPhone owners with dated handsets might be unhappy to learn their devices aren’t supported. The mobile version of the game has its problems and they’re being ironed out. When you start playing the mobile version of the game, you will notice that your avatar never gets dressed. The PUBG naked avatar is something that appears to be a bug but actually isn’t.

PUBG Naked Avatar

We’re talking about the mobile version of the app here. The desktop/PC version of this game did at one point have a bug that resulted in a naked avatar however that bug has since been fixed. The PUBG naked avatar on mobile isn’t a bug. It’s a, dare we say it, feature. Your avatar, when you first set it up is in its underpants. You can choose a gender, skin color, and hair. This bit is typical of most games on both PC and mobile but the similarity stops there. You do not progress to a screen where you can pick a pair of pants or a t-shirt.

Getting Dressed

You’re expected to play in your undies, parachute down to your drop point in your undies, kill someone in your undies, and loot crates for clothes. In most cases, you will be able to find a pair of combat boots by just searching buildings but a pair of pants is hard to come by.

The people who drop with you, or the ones you see just before a match begins are a combination of dressed, undressed, and semi-dressed. If you don’t feel like playing in just your underwear, you can always buy clothes with real money.

Once you find a crate that has clothes in it, your PUBG naked avatar will be clothed to the extent that clothes are available and it will be saved. The next time you log into the game, your avatar will be dressed. It’s a bit of a distraction really considering people are shooting at you and you want to get dressed before you die but it adds a bit to the humor of the game. Also, clothes don’t generally give you the ability to carry more items, or increase your health. Only special items like armor will give you better protection so choose what you want to spend money on, and what you want to risk your life looting. If you play seven days in a row, you can get a full outfit by collecting the daily rewards that game gives you.

If you’ve linked your game with your Facebook account, progress and your clothes ought to save with it. With guest mode, your avatar should save with clothes as well but the game has its bugs so that’s a bit of a risk. If you plan on playing the game long term, you should link your Facebook account.

Read How To Fix PUBG Naked Avatar On Mobile by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter