If you’ve bought a TV in recent years, chances are that it’s a smart TV. These offer a convenient all-in-one place to watch live TV as well as catching up on old episodes and stream movies.
Android TV is fast becoming one of the most popular smart TV platforms thanks to a wide range of products with it built-in as standard.
Whilst there are plenty of paid-for apps and services to enhance your viewing experience, in this guide, we’ll share some of the top free apps available on Android TV.
What is the difference between Android TV and Smart TVs?
To clear up any confusion, Android TV is a smart TV. It’s one of the many types of smart TV available, just to make things a bit confusing.
Some manufacturers such as LG and Samsung make their own operating system, whilst others will use Android TV, a version of Google’s popular smartphone operating system that has been optimized for TVs.
There are a number of ways you can tell if your TV is smart, the most obvious indicator is the presence of apps on the home screen, commonly Netflix and YouTube will already be installed. All smart TV’s have this in common.
To tell if it’s specifically running Android TV, look for the area where you install new apps. If this is called the Google Play Store, then it’s an Android TV. If it’s called something generic like Apps Marketplace or App Store, then it’s probably not an Android TV.
Best Free Android TV Apps
The Android ecosystem is flooded with apps for all sorts of purposes, from streaming your favorite content, organizing your life, or connecting with friends.
You’ll find fewer apps on Android TV than you would on the Google Play Store on mobile. This is because not all of them have been optimized for TV. However, it still offers an unrivaled selection of apps compared to rival TV operating systems which goes some way to account for its popularity.
Let’s jump straight into our list of free apps:
Best Free Apps for Live TV
- Freeview Play
Freeview Play was one of the biggest upgrades to Freeview, the UK’s free over-the-air channel network. Freeview Play integrates catch up services with live TV via a TV guide that allows you to scroll both forward and back.
There are over 85 live TV channels to choose from and more than 20,000 hours of entertaining content to consumers.
- BBC iPlayer
With BBC iPlayer on Android TV, you have access to all the latest content from the UK’s biggest broadcaster, without the need for an antenna. You can watch all of the BBC’s channels live as well as catch up with programs on-demand for 30 days afterward.
In addition to this, there are always old box sets of hit BBC programs that you can re-live or discover for the first time.
Best Free Apps for Video
YouTube has every kind of video that you can fathom so the YouTube app is a must-have. In fact, often it will come pre-installed on Android TVs given that it is owned by Google.
Watch your favorite vodcast, vlogs, and short series from your favorite YouTubers. Continue where you left off on your phone to your TV.
If you ever feel like that searching for videos on the TV is a hectic task, then there is a way around it as well. The YouTube app also allows streaming directly from the phone to your YouTube app on the TV.
- Facebook Watch
Connecting with friends and family on Facebook is not the only thing that social media has to offer in recent times. Facebook has been pushing its video content and it’s Facebook Watch app for TVs is an output of that.
Facebook Watch offers personalized content bundles based on social media engagement, popularity, and other factors. Not only will it recommend videos and live streams from pages you frequently interact with, but Facebook has also teamed up with leading networks to provide exclusive TV shows, movies and content developed exclusively for the platform.
If you have a media server in your home from the days before streaming was the go-to method of consuming content, then you’ll be pleased to know that Plex allows you to access your owned media just as easily as any streaming service, right from your smart TV.
With a Plex server, you can get great use of the app for free. However, they have started providing thousands of titles of movies, shows, documentaries, and more via their 80+ premium live channels for a monthly fee that rivals Netflix.
Content from Channel 4’s network is all available to stream via the All4 app, including content from E4, More 4, and often from Film 4 too.
This app is ad-supported so you can watch the content completely free of charge if you don’t mind putting up with the occasional ad break.
Do we even need to explain Netflix? The global giant that started out as a DVD rental company has gone on to revolutionize streaming.
Their in-house productions have garnered a loyal fan following in recent times with programmings such as The Crown and Breaking Bad.
Now we promised this would be a list of free apps and we’ll stay true to that as Netflix recently announced a free tier offering some of their biggest original series supported by ads.
Best Free Apps for Music
No day is complete without playing your favorite tunes. It certainly can set or lift up the mood. You can listen to your favorite album or podcasts while going about your daily business, and yes, they do offer a free plan.
With the free plan, you are limited to playing songs on shuffle and only have a set number of skip forwards per hour, but we’re sure you’ll soon be switching toa premium plan.
You can also stream music directly from your phone to your Android TV with Spotify Connect.
- TuneIn Radio
Listen to radio stations from across the world on your Android TV with the magic of the Internet. Catch live sports, news, music, and much more.
TuneIn Radio has over 100,000+ radio stations to stream from, including more than 600+ that are ad-free. You won’t run out of radio stations anytime soon.
Other Great Apps to Try
- Sideload Launcher
We’ve already mentioned that apps on your Android TV must be installed via the Google Play Store which has fewer apps than the mobile version and is strictly controlled by Google.
But that’s not the only way to get apps on your TV and you can actually bypass the Play Store and install any app you like from a USB stick. Once you’ve installed your desired app, you can use Sideload Launcher to access it.
- Crossy Road
We’ve generally covered functional apps that will help you to complete tasks, but if you’re after something a little more fun then look no further than Crossy Road. This hit game has over 200 million downloads and we bet every single one of those people has frustratingly spent hours trying to get the chicken across the road.
When it comes to media players, VLC needs no introduction. If you have any media files that are not supported by the default media player, then let VLC take charge.
One notable feature is the audio search, which lets you search all the files on the Android TV with your voice.