Android TV tips, tricks and hidden secrets

Get more from your Google-powered TV or set-top box

Android TV tips, tricks and hidden secrets
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Google says the number of people using Android TV has doubled in the past year, and it expects it to continue to grow.

That's a little surprising considering Android TV hasn't seen any new third-party Android TV boxes and streaming devices for a bit, but it is getting built into high-end TVs from the likes of Sony Bravia, Philips OLED and Sharp Aquos.

Read our comprehensive guide to Android TV for all the important details but, if you're just looking to get more from your own smart TV setup then read on for our top tips and tricks, with details on a few great hidden features you might not have known about...

Android TV tips, tricks and hidden secrets

Add a gaming controller to Android TV

There's plenty of great games for Android TV - although playing them with a remote control isn't the easiest. You're better off pairing up a Bluetooth-enabled game controller - your PS4 one has Bluetooth in, as does the latest Xbox One controller... plus there's a ton of cheap ones available online.

Go to the Bluetooth settings menu, and choose 'Add device' and it's as easy as that. You can even use the controller to navigate your TV's home screen and non-gaming apps too.

Sideload extra Android apps

You'll probably have noticed that the Google Play Store on your Android TV is nowhere near as jam-packed as the one on your Android smartphone. Android TV's Play Store simply shows dedicated apps that have been developed with the big screen in mind. However, you can theoretically add any Android app to your system - such is the beauty of Google's open-source approach. We say theoretically because some apps just won't work on a TV.

There's plenty of info out there on the ones that do though; but before you start adding 'unofficial' apps you'll need to allow apps from 'Unknown sources' from the 'Security & restrictions' menu in the Settings. Then you'll have to download a File Manager app from Google Play.

ES File Explorer is our top pick because it allows you to sync up Dropbox and Google Drive - so you can simply find the APK files for the Android app you want to 'sideload', throw it in your cloud-of-choice's folder and install direct from your TV.

Use voice control

Your Android TV probably has a dedicated microphone button that opens up a whole range of control options - such as looking for shows or actors, opening apps, changing settings and so on.

But the real fun starts when you...

Enable your personalised Google Assistant

From the Google Assistant app on your phone, find your TV listed in the devices menu and allow 'Personal results'. This puts Google's Assistant right in your TV, allowing you to control any linked smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats and more.

You can even ask Google Assistant to stream the live feed from any connected Nest security cameras.

Use your phone as a remote control

You don't need to use the clunky controller that came in your TV's box. You can use the official Android TV remote control app to navigate the screens and menus - and there's even a version for iPhone users too.

Download here for Android, here for iOS.

Android TV tips, tricks and hidden secrets

Use Android TV as a Chromecast

Your Android TV also doubles up as a Chromecast, with all the same beaming skills as a dedicated Chromecast device.

You don't need to do anything - whenever Casting is available, you'll see your Android TV device listed. If you've got an Android phone, you can mirror your phone on the TV. If you've got an iPhone, you can still cast specific apps, like Netflix or YouTube.

Get rid of those annoying recommendations

That bar up the top with all the recommended stuff from your TV manufacturer, from YouTube, Hulu, Google Play and more... annoying as heck, right? The good news is you can kill all of it dead - although it's a bit of a chore.

Simply go the Apps part of the Settings menu, find the app that is recommending stuff, select it and turn off notifications. Keep going until you get a nice clean screen.

TAGGED    televisions    google

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