This story was originally published and last updated .
If you want to install something like a browser or an app not available on the Play Store for your Android TV-powered smart TV, set top box, or dongle, it's not immediately intuitive how you'd go about it. While more complicated methods like using ADB (which we'll explain as well) exist, there are simple wireless file sharing tools we strongly prefer that make the processing of APK sideloading super simple.
Whatever your reason for doing it may be, we'll walk you through the easiest way to sideload APK files onto any Android TV device.
Televisions, streaming sticks, and set-top boxes with Android TV have access to millions of applications through the Google Play Store. However, there are some situations where you might want to sideload your own applications (APKs). Maybe you want the latest app updates quicker than the Play Store rolls them out, or you want to try an application that isn't officially available for your specific device.
Google recently has revealed that sideloading Android apps on Chromebooks might be a bit easier for Android developers in the future, though it still won't be as simple as it is on an Android phone. Based on the news, which was first spotted by About Chromebooks, the feature may land as soon as Chrome OS 80, but the details currently provided make it clear this is a developer-targeted feature. In other words, you probably won't be installing Fortnite on your Chromebook any time soon.
Installing an app from the Play Store is an almost magically streamlined experience: You find the app you want, tap “Install,” and sit back while Google takes care of the rest. But behind the scenes there's some clever business going on to make sure that your phone gets the particular version of an app that's best suited for it. That process is now getting even more complicated as Google introduces something called the Android App Bundle and a process known as Dynamic Delivery. Let's take a look at what's changing, and how this is going to affect you.
When it comes to installing applications from outside the Play Store, Chromebooks are at a disadvantage. On normal Android devices, all it takes is enabling 'Apps from Unknown Sources' in the settings (or doing it on a per-app basis on Oreo). Unfortunately, sideloading APKs on Chromebooks requires enabling Developer Mode, which disables boot verification and other security features. It also requires users to press a key combination when you boot up (on most models) - Google really doesn't want you enabling it.
As we reported yesterday, Google recently opened up the Google Dialer app to virtually all phones running Marshmallow. Great! Everyone was happy for a few hours, and then the other shoe dropped. It turns out this was not intentional on Google's part, and the Play Store listing no longer allows installing on non-Nexus phones. What's more, sideloading is blocked in the latest build.