There are plenty of smart TV platforms out there, but Android TV is one of the best. It may not be as tightly controlled as Apple’s tvOS or as simple to use as the Roku platform, but it makes up for this with sheer customizability.
For proof, look no further than the existence of third-party app stores. There are plenty of apps available in the Google Play Store, but you may not find everything you need. Fortunately, all you need to do is install one or more of the following app stores and you’ll have many more options.
1. Amazon Appstore
If you want to install apps exclusive to Amazon, you might think you need a Fire TV device, but that isn’t true. Simply install the Amazon Appstore, and you’ll have access to many more apps. You’ll also get access to rewards, which can mean free access to otherwise paid apps in the future.
The Amazon Appstore is meant to run on phones, but like all Android apps, it will also run on an Android TV device. The app should be easy to navigate with your remote, but you can also use a game controller or other Android-compatible device for easier navigation if necessary.
If you’ve ever gone looking for open-source apps for your Android phone, you may be aware of F-Droid already. You’ll only find open-source software here, but it’s one of the best-organized third-party app stores you’ll find.
Like the Amazon Appstore, F-Droid isn’t built explicitly for TVs. Still, there are plenty of users providing feedback about running the app on Android TV devices, so support is getting better all the time.
Uptodown is another third-party App Store with an emphasis on security. The apps in this store are tested for malware, so while you can’t entirely trust any app, those you find on this app store should be safer than some other stores.
Because of its emphasis on security, Uptodown has a lower count of available apps than other stores on this list. Still, if you’re wary of installing potentially hazardous apps, this is one of your better options.
GetJar is an app store that doesn’t only focus on Android. The app also distributes software for iOS, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry devices, among other platforms.
GetJar is easy to browse, thanks to the categories it uses to sort out apps. If you’re looking for a different approach to Android app stores or you remember GetJar from other platforms, this is a good choice.
If you can’t find the app you’re looking for on any of the other services, you can try Aptoide, an independent Android app store. Unlike many of the apps on this list, Aptoide even has a version built specifically to run on Android TV devices.
While the Aptoide website claims that it’s one of the safest Android app stores, you’ll want to be careful. This app works by pulling together multiple app distributors, and because of this you can’t always be sure of the origin of the app you’re installing. If you’re going to use this app store, make sure to use caution.
Some people won’t ever need to look beyond the basic apps available in the Google Play Store. It’s even safe to say that most people won’t need to. Still, if you’re looking to push the limits of what you can do with your Android TV device, you’ll need apps not found in the Play Store.
In the meantime, if you’re a new Android TV owner and aren’t sure what to install, we can help. Just take a look at our list of the best apps available for Android TV.