Getting to Know Android TV Boxes and What They Can Do

By | April 24, 2022

Android TV Box is becoming very popular. People looking to upgrade their TV, anyone using Kodi and Plex to manage their own media, people who travel a lot, and more.

But what is an Android TV Box? What features does the Android TV Box have? And who should buy Android TV Box

What is Android TV Box

An Android TV set is a set-top box or dongle that plugs into your television. You can use Android TV Box to watch video apps, video sites, and network TV shows on demand.

“Android TV Box” is not a strictly defined term. They come in many different shapes and sizes and can have very different abilities. The only thing they have in common is the ability to run the Android TV operating system.

What is Android TV Operating System

Android TV is a version of the Android operating system designed specifically to run on televisions. It’s been around since mid-2014 when it replaced the now-defunct Google TV.

Just like the mobile version of Android, the Android TV operating system is highly fragmented. Many Android TV Box manufacturers have tweaked the OS to cater to their own wants and requirements. Even Amazon’s Fire TV operating system is a heavily modified version of Android TV OS.

And just like the mobile version, there are many different releases floating around due to the erratic update cycle. Google regularly releases new versions, but they can take a long time — in some cases, years to filter to all devices via manufacturer over-the-air updates.

The Android TV OS is also found integrated in smart TVs. At various times, Sharp, Sony, Philips, and Hisense have all used the Android TV OS to power the smart capabilities of their TVs.

Lastly, Android TV OS is the most common backend for Box Kodi. For those who are not aware, Box Kodi is a Box decoder that boots directly into the Kodi app. And no, don’t worry Box Kodi won’t get you into trouble with the law. We have explained the legality of the Kodi box in case you want more information.

How to Find Content on Android TV Box

Despite using the Android moniker, the interface on the Android TV Box bears little resemblance to its smartphone counterpart.

Your app is displayed on a scrollable ribbon on the screen. On most Android TV Boxes, you can set your favorites, as well as view suggested content from your apps in an additional ribbon at the bottom of the screen. Android TV Box does not support widgets.

What You Can Watch on Android TV

Android TV users have access to the Google Play Store. However, it is not the Google Play Store that you will get used to if you are an Android phone user.

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The list of available applications is highly modified. App developers must make their software compatible with Android TV in order to be listed on the TV version of the store. That means many apps from smaller developers are not available.

Nonetheless, all the apps you’d expect to find are there. You can download and watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Crackle, YouTube, HBO Go, NBC, ABC, BBC iPlayer, MLB.TV and many more. Some apps face geo-restrictions. Use a high-quality VPN provider like ExpressVPN or CyberGhost to get around.

However, even though the Google Play Store is smaller than the mobile version, Android TV Box lets you sideload apps. This means you can grab the APK file of any app you want to run on your Box and install it.

Please note that the moved apps may not be compatible with your remote. A simple solution is to download the Android TV remote app for your smartphone; they let you use your finger as a mouse cursor.

Is Other Content Available on Android TV Box

Android TV isn’t just about watching videos. There are music apps like Spotify and Pandora, video players like VLC, and various utility apps like file explorers and sideload app launchers.

However, the most prominent form of alternative content on Android TV is games. Some Android TV Boxes especially Nvidia Shield even offer alternative app stores where you can download and run games as diverse as Grand Theft Auto and Sonic the Hedgehog.

What Other Features Android TV Box Has

This is where it starts to get cloudy. Different Android TV Box designers have built different features into their products.

Some of the features you may encounter on the Android TV Box include:

Built-in Chromecast Support

You can cast directly from your phone, tablet or desktop Chrome browser directly to your TV.

Google Assistant

Mid-range and high-end products are increasingly offering Google Assistant integration. Sometimes, it’s in the form of an always-listening set-top box. Other times, you will need to activate the assistant via your Android TV remote control.

Additional ports

Again, the situation varies greatly from device to device. Depending on the manufacturer, you may find a USB port, an SD card slot, and an Ethernet port for a wired internet connection.

You can use the USB port to connect keyboards, mice, game controllers, and other peripherals.

Bluetooth

If your Android TV Box is Bluetooth-enabled, you can use the connection to connect it to your phone, keyboard, laptop, or other device.

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