Google’s fall hardware event unveiled lots of new hardware, including the Nest Audio, Pixel 4A 5G, Pixel 5, and the new Chromecast. Apart from this year’s Pixel devices, Google TV made its debut, and it will be built into the new Chromecast.
Google TV replaces the existing Android TV interface, and the launcher is the biggest change yet. It’s still Android TV under the hood based on Android 10, but with Google’s reimagined software experience. The tech giant also announced that the new ‘Google TV’ branding (technically a decade older than Android TV) would completely replace Android TV in the next two years.
However, the Google TV interface will remain exclusive to the new Chromecast for now, and it will be made available to other media streaming player and TV manufacturers in 2021. There are no words on when exactly it will happen.
Initially, after the rollout of the Google TV Home app on the Play Store, many Android TV users tried to sideload it on their devices, just to find that it doesn’t work. Soon enough, several Redditors on the r/Android TV subreddit got the launcher working on the Mi Box S, NVIDIA SHIELD, and other Android TV devices by following a different workaround.
If you are interested in trying out the new Google TV launcher on your current Android TV device, follow the steps in this guide.
Step 1: Sideload the Google TV Launcher
The Google TV Home launcher will work only on devices that are running the 9.0 Pie version of Android TV (or above). The straightforward way to get it installed on your device is to use the “Send Files to TV” app to receive the APK file and then sideloading it using the FX File Explorer. However, you will have to install the following apps first.
- Go to the Play Store from the Apps list of the Android TV home screen.
- Next, move up to the right of the Play Store window and click the hand lens icon to open the Search menu.
- Now use the on-screen Android keyboard to enter “Send files to TV” in the search field.
- Select Send Files to TV from the search results, and click the Install button on the next page.
By following the steps above, make sure that you also install the FX File Explorer app. You will be able to open them from the Apps list on the Android TV Home screen.
Once you have both of the apps installed, follow the steps below to sideload the Google TV Home launcher on your Android TV.
- First, install the Send Files to TV app on your Android smartphone or tablet from the Play Store.
- Next, open up your preferred browser app and go to this link to download the Google TV Home APK file.
- After that, launch the Send Files to TV app on both of your Android and Android TV devices. Ensure that you tap the Allow option when asked to give the app storage permissions.
- On your phone or tablet, tap Send in the SFTV app, then go to your Download folder and select the APK file you downloaded earlier.
- Now click Receive in the SFTV app on your Android TV. Assuming that your devices are connected to the same network, you should see your Android TV device model in the SFTV app on your Android phone or tablet.
- From the scan results, select your Android TV device. The APK file should take a few seconds to transfer.
Once you have the APK file on your Android TV, launch the FX File Explorer and go to the Download folder. From there, you can open the APK file and get the option to install it. It’s worth mentioning that you will have to allow the file manager to install unknown apps first.
Step 2: Run the following ADB commands
The workaround to get the Google TV Home launcher working on the current version of Android TV requires users to disable the stock Android TV launcher first. For that, you will need to have ADB installed on your computer, and you can do it easily with the 15 seconds ADB installer tool for Windows. There are other alternatives available for Linux and macOS, such as the Nexus Tools.
Once you do it, go back to your Android TV and follow the steps below to enable ADB debugging.
- Click the gear icon on the top-right end of the Android TV Home screen to open the Settings menu.
- Next, scroll down to the Device Preferences option and select About on the following page.
- Once again, scroll down to Build Version and click it repeatedly until you get the “You are now a developer” message.
- Now head back to the Device Preferences menu and click Developer Options.
- In the following menu, scroll down and enable the USB Debugging and Network Debugging option.
After enabling the debugging options, go to the About menu in the Settings and click Status. Make sure to note down your device’s IP address carefully.
Assuming you have followed the steps above, you can now open a CMD or Terminal window on your computer and proceed to run the ADB commands listed below.
- adb connect “xxx.xxx.x.x”
First, run the command above to connect to your Android TV device. Enter the IP address without the quotes, and you may have to add “.5555” after that. Also, you will have to accept the ADB request on your Android TV.
- adb shell pm uninstall –user 0 com.google.android.tvlauncher
The following command disables the stock Android TV launcher. Do NOT run this command without sideloading the Google TV Home app first.
After running the commands, press the Home button on your Android TV remote. If everything goes correctly, you should see the new Google TV Home interface.
In case you want to switch back to the stock Android TV launcher, run the command below. Note that your Android TV home screen layout will revert back to default, and you will have to customize it again to your liking.
- adb shell cmd package install-existing com.google.android.tvlauncher
The new Google TV Home interface unifies the content catalog of all streaming services and makes it easier for users to discover movies, shows, live channels, and other content that suits their preferences.
At the time of this writing, the Google Assistant-powered Search option on the new Google TV interface is non-functional, as it’s not meant to be used on the existing Android TV system yet.
However, the content recommendations work as intended, and you can access your installed apps from the launcher. Check out this r/AndroidTV post to see the Google TV Home interface in action.
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