The best tricks and features to master your Android Smart TV

by Luigi Nori Date: 05-11-2020 android androidtv chrome smarttv

We bring you a collection of the best tricks to squeeze Android TV, the Google operating system designed for televisions. You can find it on smart televisions of some brands, but also on devices that you will connect to the TV. With all of them, you can use different types of applications to view multiple contents.

The idea of this guide is that you will find new functions and utilities for your Android TV, whether you are a first-time user or already have experience using it.

Your Android TV is also a Chromecast

We start with one of the basic functions of Android TV, one of those that serves as a strong argument for its use. The majority of devices include Google Cast technology, which in turn allows you to use your TV or box connected to Android TV as a Chromecast. In cases like those of devices, which cost similar to a Chromecast, it is a good reason to bet on them.

Another advantage of being able to use Chromecast technology is that it will allow you to watch your mobile screen on TV through the mirroring option. This way, if there is something on your phone that you want to show everyone, you will have it very easy.

Add a controller for your games

Android TV also has its small large catalog of adapted games. Usually they allow you to play using the remote control of the device you install them on, but this does not always offer the best and most comfortable experience. Therefore, Android TV also allows you to connect a Bluetooth remote control.

All you have to do is go to the settings option and choose the option to add a device. On devices you can find a submenu for Remote Control and Accessories. You can also use the remote control to navigate through the menus as well as play games. Remember that both the PS4 remote and the latest versions of the XBox One remote can also work via Bluetooth.

Use bluetooth keyboard or mouse

You will also be able to synchronize a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, to do this you must also go to the settings menu and choose the option to synchronize devices. Remember that to carry out the process, mouse and keyboard must have Bluetooth and be in synchronization mode. This can help you, for example, to write better when you want to search or browse the Internet with your Android TV.

Surf the Internet with a browser

Although Android TV allows you to use several browsers, many may not work well or be entirely usable without a keyboard and mouse. As you've just seen, you can connect them via bluetooth, but if you don't have this possibility you can also use other alternatives.

One of them is TVWeb Browser, a browser adapted to work better on televisions and be easier to use. Its negative side is that the interface is quite ugly and poor, but it fulfills the function of being used well without a keyboard or mouse. If you know other alternatives, I invite you to tell us in the comments.

Use your cell phone as a remote control

If you're one of those who never know where you've left your remote control, there's an application that lets you turn your smartphone into a remote control for any Android TV device. The application is called Android TV Remote Control, and all you'll need is to have both devices connected to the same WiFi.

When you run the application, after asking for some permissions you will be taken to a screen where you will be shown the name of the compatible Android TV device that is within reach of the mobile. After clicking on the name of the device, the app will ask you to enter a code that will appear on the TV screen where you have connected the device. Enter it and it's done, the mobile will synchronize and now it will show you a remote control interface.

Install applications from other sources

Like the conventional mobile version of Android, the TV version should also allow you to install applications from external sources such as a USB, or even downloading its APK from the Internet. To do this, you will only have to activate the option to install them from unknown sources, which is usually in the security and restrictions section.

To do this, find the APK you want and download it or put it in a USB. Then use a file browser such as ES File Explorer to browse the drive and run the APK file with the app you want to install. Please note that if it is not an application adapted to Android TV, it may not work properly.

Custom Screensaver

Android TV does come with a native screensaver feature (Backdrop), but it’s very limited and you can’t set your own photos. Secondly, the much-loved Google Photos integration with Android TV is gone due to a security issue. So basically, you don’t have many options left to display your personal set of photos either from your Google account or internal storage.

In that case, the Photo Gallery and Screensaver app (Free, offers in-app purchases) comes to the rescue. The app is specifically designed for Android TV and brings all the screensaver features that you have always wanted on a larger TV screen.

You can choose your photos from internal storage, change the aspect ratio, apply a transition effect, and do much more. And the best part is that through this app, you can even connect your Google account and it can pull your photos and display them as a screensaver. To sum up, Photo Gallery and Screensaver is one of the best Android TV apps and you should know this trick to further customize your Android TV.

Send images and files to any device

One of the most difficult things on this device is moving any type of local file to your computer. The easiest thing is to use a file browser to send these photos and files to a USB, and from there to the computer, but sometimes these applications fail or are not able to copy several files at once, which is what happened to us with the captures in this article.

The solution is the cloud. If you install the ES File Explorer application, in the left column you will have a cloud section where you can configure your Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox account.

Use voice control

Most Android TV devices have a dedicated microphone button on the remote control. This opens a wide range of options, such as being able to search for content directly by voice, open applications, or make changes to settings. However, it's not all and it's not the best thing you can do with it either.

Use Google Assistant

The best thing is that since December 2018, Google Assistant has started to reach Android TV, and that allows everything you can do with your device to multiply exponentially. And if your TV remote doesn't have a microphone, you can also install the Android TV Remote Control application we told you about a while ago.

As for what you can do with Assistant on your Android TV, to start with you can control everything from volume to playback. You can also use it to open and control YouTube videos, Netflix movies and series or your Spotify music, not to mention all the other actions that the assistant allows you to perform.

Video Calling with Duo (PiP Support)

If you are not aware, Google Duo has arrived on Android TV and it’s available on the Play Store. You just need to plug in a webcam and Android TV will take care of everything. Keep in mind, your Android TV should be on Android 9 build to be able to use this feature. The best part about Google Duo on Android TV is that even Picture-in-Picture mode (PiP) works.

For instance, while you are on a video call on Duo, press the Home button on the remote and a PiP window will appear as an overlay. Now, you can open any sports app and co-watch the game with your friends and family. What’s more, the overlay window remains on top of video players as well. If you want to learn how to install Google Duo on Android TV then follow our linked guide.

Block offensive words

If you want to prevent anyone using the device from searching for bad words with the voice features, you can activate a specific protection for this. To do this you will have to enter the Device Settings, and search for the voice preferences where you can activate the option to block offensive words.

In this same setting you can also activate the safe search filter to prevent the voice assistant from being used to search for content that is not suitable for everyone either.

Blocks access to apps with the restricted profile

Android TV has a system called a restricted profile. You can activate it in the security and restrictions options, and in doing so you will have to write a PIN. When you set the PIN, you will see a list of your installed apps and you can choose which ones are accessible with the restricted profile and which ones are not.

This serves as a kind of parental control. Once you have set it up, if a user wants to see more apps than you have set up, they will have to enter the PIN you have set up. Also, no more applications can be downloaded or purchased without this PIN.

Take a screenshot of your TV screen

Yes, with Android TV you can also take screenshots, and it's as easy as taking them on your mobile. The method can change depending on the device, but usually you only need to combine two buttons at a time, such as the power button and turn down the volume on the remote control. You will see a capture animation, and this will be saved in the /sdcard/Pictures/Screenshots/route .

Block Google Play purchases

In the Google Play settings you can also set up the Ask for Authentication action, which allows you to have your Google Play password asked whenever you go shopping or every 30 minutes. This will prevent accidental and unwanted purchases in your profile.

Expand internal storage space

Each Android TV device can have a certain amount of internal storage that can sometimes be too limited. For those cases, you can expand it by connecting a USB and configuring it as internal storage from the device settings, in the Storage and Restore options.

Here you click on the USB drive, and in its settings click on Delete and format as device storage. The USB will be formatted, and from that moment on you can use it as a second hard disk for your device. Here is a more detailed explanation if you need it.

Move games and apps to a USB

If you have a USB connected to your Android TV, on many models you can also move your games or applications there, whether you have it configured as internal storage or not. To do this, in the application menu click on the game, so that you will see a menu with your data and options such as opening it. Here, click on the option Storage used.

When you do it will appear in which storage unit you have installed the game, which usually will be the internal storage. If you have a USB connected it will also appear, so to move the game you only have to click on USB drive to start the process of moving the files. However, look at the storage available, because if it is greater than that you will get a message telling you that there is no room for the game.

Display more content on your idle screen

When your Android TV goes into sleep mode, all it shows is a black screen or wallpaper. However, you also have the ability to display more useful information such as time, date, or weather information. But that's not all, as there are third-party applications that help you display even more information.

Although not compatible with all Android TVs, there are apps like Lucid Daydream that show you information such as calendar events or notifications. Another interesting one is Photo Gallery and Screensaver, which allow you to use several sources like Google Photos to put your galleries as wallpapers.

Disable automatic app updates

If you don't have the ability to use a USB to increase the storage capacity of your Android TV, you also have other options when it comes to controlling a little bit of space you have to avoid slowing down your device or TV. For example, disable automatic updates for all your applications and only let certain apps do it.

To do this you'll have to enter the Google Play Store application and go to its settings. In them you will see some options related to the automatic update of applications, where you can disable them as you like.

Bring your TV audio to your mobile

This is a curious little trick that may interest you. Imagine that you are watching something at night and you don't want to disturb your family or your apartment mates with the noise of the TV. Well, there is the possibility of bringing the Android TV audio to your mobile while the image is still on the TV.

This is one of several options in the LocalCast application, which works on multiple devices and allows you to route the sound from one to another with a single click. Just go to the Now Playing screen and click on the Send audio to phone option. This is an option still in beta phase, so it might fail sometime yet.

Create your own Netflix or Spotify

And while we're on the subject of third-party applications, don't forget about Plex. You'll be able to do lots of things with it, but on your Android TV you'll surely get more out of the possibilities of setting up your own Netflix with the content you have on your computer or your own Spotify. By having a native application for Android TV, everything will be much easier when it comes to consuming this content that you have synced from a PC.

Play with the developer options

As in the mobile version, on Android TV you can also activate the hidden developer options. To do so, just enter the information about the device within the settings, and press the build number seven times with the central button on the remote control.

When you do so, the new menu with the developer options will appear. In them you will see some options like changing the scales of the animations to make the system look more fluid, and many other things. However, as these are very advanced options, I recommend that you do not touch them too much if you do not know what you are doing, as this could affect the performance and operation of your Android TV.

Force the detention of applications

If there is an application that is giving you trouble, Android TV allows you to shut it down without having to wait for it to finish loading. To do this, go to Settings, and once inside, in the Device section go to Applications. Now, in the Installed Applications category, click on the app that is malfunctioning.

When you click here on an application, it will not open directly, but will first show you a menu with options. In it, click on Force Stop to force it to stop. You will also have an option Uninstall applications to delete it directly from the device if the problem persists.

Set (or delete) recommendations

Android TV also allows some applications to show you recommended content, both from the manufacturer of your TV and from YouTube, Hulu, Google Play, Netflix and other applications. You may or may not like this, but whatever it is you can always change it from the settings, in the recommendation options that will be in the home screen section.

In these options you will be able to individually activate the recommendations of the various compatible applications you have installed. This means that you can activate all of them, just some, or deactivate them completely to have the cleanest possible startup screen. It's up to you.

How to restore factory data

And finally, Android TV will also allow you to reset the device to leave it as if you just bought it as you can do on your mobile. To do this you will have to go to the device settings, and find the option Reset Factory Data that can be within the Device section. Once here, you can proceed to delete all the applications and changes you have made.

by Luigi Nori Date: 05-11-2020 android androidtv chrome smarttv hits : 9613  
Luigi Nori

Luigi Nori

He has been working on the Internet since 1994 (practically a mummy), specializing in Web technologies makes his customers happy by juggling large scale and high availability applications, php and js frameworks, web design, data exchange, security, e-commerce, database and server administration, ethical hacking. He happily lives with @salvietta150x40, in his (little) free time he tries to tame a little wild dwarf with a passion for stars.


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