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A couple of years ago I was looking to buy an Android TV. After doing some digging, I found the KD-55X93D model (or KD-55XD93 in some countries) was the one that better suited my needs. Personal choices aside, I thought it would be easy to get apps designed for TVs, or that maybe it would be hard to choose between thousands of them. After all, it's Android, right? Well, sooner than later I discovered I wasn't that right.
Nonetheless, over time, after doing some research, installing/uninstalling hundreds of apps and a couple of resets, I found these were the apps I end up using the most or reinstalling every time they went away.
Update (Dec. 2020): Since then, I've upgraded to a TCL Android TV, and the apps work pretty much the same way. So they also should work fine on Philips Android TVs.
Let's clarify something first (just in case you don't already know):
You'll find some of your apps on the Google Play Store, while others you'll have to sideload (we'll get there in a minute).
Sony doesn't have an app store (although they do suggest some apps). You can simply (and have to) download every app from the official Google Play Store (or any other store that you trust).
Now, that doesn't mean you don't have a kind of dedicated TV app store, because the only apps that you'll ever find in the Play Store are apps exclusively designed for big screens, like TVs.
Now that's a bummer. Why? you may ask? Simply because there are hundreds of hidden apps (maybe even thousands of them) that would run perfectly well on your TV and are available only on your Android smartphone.
That's why you're getting two best of's instead of one.
I'm not going into details about included (pre-installed) apps (like Youtube or Netflix) because that's something (I hope) you don't have to install.
I know I'm not even starting with an app, but being this article about TVs, I think a good set of video players is mandatory. You'll end up having your favorite, but sometimes that isn't good enough. There will be a time when your favorite player won't play or sync your video or subtitle file, and you'll be happy you already have good alternatives installed.
Kodi media center is a free and open source cross-platform software media player and entertainment hub. You can easily browse and view videos, photos, podcasts, and music from a hard-drive, optical disc, local network, and the internet using only a few buttons.
This is by far one of my most used apps. I'm glad it is available in the store but be aware that you may have to sideload some plugins if you want to watch any online content.
VLC is another free and open source cross-platform multimedia player that plays most multimedia files as well as discs, devices, and network streaming protocols.
This is my go-to alternative when things don't work like they are supposed to with Kodi or the TV video player or when I need more options.
MX Player is another robust multimedia player. It has a free and a paid version. It supports tons of audio and subtitle formats. It's one of the first multi-core hardware accelerated video players.
I like this one mainly because of its user interface and subtitle handling.
Like MX Player, Archos also has a free and a paid version, tons of supported subtitle formats, 3D compatible, auto movie and tv show poster and description download, folder browsing support, and so on...
I like Archos because I'm able to manually adjust audio/video synchronization and also manually adjust subtitles synchronization.
That's the file manager app I use to open any multimedia file I may have on my external storages or in a cloud service, like Google Drive, Dropbox, Onedrive and so on and I really like its dual-pane tree view. By the way, it has its own video player and tons of other features.
If you're planning to sideload an app, you'll also need a file manager to do that. More on that later.
I don't know if you're a fan of using a keyboard and a mouse with your Sony smart TV. But, if like me, you don't like the stress of having to do everything with a small and limited TV remote, a wireless keyboard and mouse is the best way to go.
So, this is a mandatory app. I use it mainly to assign the multimedia keys of my keyboard to the respective functions on my TV. That's how I turn the volume up and down, skip to the previous and next tune, go to the start/home screen and even do other functions like turning wifi on or off.
Another nice feature is the ability to open my favorite apps with shortcuts. I can press CTRL+Y to instantly open the Youtube app or CTRL+K to open Kodi, and so on.
You can also use CTRL+ALT+DEL to do a quick restart on your Sony TV. To me, this simply is a blessing for those times when your TV is just acting up.
Two years down the line and I've decided to stick with this key mapper app instead of the previous app (#3). Mostly because it's much easier to use, and I prefer to assign my remote control keys to my most-used apps.
I still haven't managed to do the same with keyboard shortcuts, but I also don't care that much now.
If you prefer to watch facebook videos on a big screen, this is the way to go. You can promptly watch the videos your friends reacted to, shared and liked on facebook.
You can also watch all the videos you've watched before on any of your devices.
There's also news, live and gaming channels if you want to discover (and share) new videos. Or you can simply search for a video.
There isn't much to say about Spotify. It isn't the most keyboard and mouse friendly app, but you'll manage it. It also doesn't feel very snappy with low-end hardware.
You can listen to your tunes on demand without going premium and while using other non-multimedia apps, like browsing the web. You can also just make a playlist and use your remote to turn your screen off while you do your stuff.
This is the one app I don't use at all simply because I rarely play any game on my PC. Nevertheless, I know it may be a big deal for those who do. This app will allow you to stream your Steam games onto your Bravia smart TV without worrying about moving your PC or getting a long enough HDMI cable.
This is a "must-have" app if you have kids, but if you don't, this is still a useful app if you want to play some videos and keep them out of your video or search history. I don't really use this app a lot because its videos are mostly limited to what a child can watch and to this day, this app isn't very keyboard friendly at all, making search a somewhat painful process.
Some may say this isn't really an app, but I did find it on the Play Store, and it does what it's supposed to and does it pretty well.
If you have a TLC TV or if you simply want more bass on your headphones/earphones to give some life to your favorite action movies or dance music tunes, then this is a must-have.
You can not only turn it on or off, but you can also fine-tune the amount of bass you want to add to your speakers.
While the dev is reporting on the Google Play Store that this app may not work on some TVs, I have already tested it, and your Bravia smart TV is good to go. This is the app you're going to use to find and open your sideloaded apps.
I was previously using the TV Apps Drawer Free app, but I found that this new app it's easier to use.
This is a list of apps that may not be suited for you to use with a TV remote, but if you have a wireless keyboard and mouse connected to your USB port(s), you'll find they are as good as any native app.
If you don't have a favorite APK site, this is the one I recommend. It probably is the best place to download them. It really doesn't seem to include any malware on the downloads at all, like some other sites have been known for doing.
There is no official app, but there's an unofficial one that was developed by an XDA Labs member. You need an XDA account to download this app.
You can find and download any APK with this app and then use the X-plore app to navigate to your Downloads folder and install those apps. Then just open the Sideload Launcher app to find your sideloaded apps.
Yes, that's right. Google doesn't include its own browser on your Bravia TV. What's even worse is that the store doesn't have anything that comes close to Chrome, so you might as well just sideload it and be done with that.
None of these apps are on the store nor come pre-installed on your TV, so you just have to sideload them. The good news is that they do run pretty well, so there's no reason to ignore them.
You may probably have an app on your smartphone for catching up on new series, watch a movie or even some live TV channels. But you may not be able to find it in your TVs Google Play Store. So, you might have research to do, before you find that app APK file.
If you like browsing the web to find streaming content, but you usually get tons of ads and pop-ups with that, then Firefox is THE mandatory browser (unless you prefer and trust some less-known web browser).
Not only it'll block most unwanted pop-ups, but with a right-click of a mouse, it can usually and quickly close any unwanted and recently opened tab. Plus, sometimes, you just want to try some webpage on a different browser.
If you don't have an Android TV (box) yet, stick around, and I'll give you a couple of answers for some questions you may still have.
The main reason why I went for an Android TV is that I'm tired of boxes, cables, and remotes lying around in the house. That doesn't mean a box is a bad idea. If you already have a nice TV, or if you can buy a good one in a big sale, you can always go for a box later. You can also choose one that better suits your RAM, performance or storage needs.
That's a pretty hard question to answer, but I'll try to do my best.
Before I bought my Android TV, I thought I would probably regret it but years went by, and I ended up finding some nonsense bugs in traditional smart TVs. I'm not saying mine hasn't, of course. But at least I don't remember it failing me with the basics. Still, I recommend you to do a reset after a major update.
If you don't already have a Sony Smart TV and you're considering buying one, you can start by checking what Amazon has to offer. Click here to check it out.
So, are you going to try any of these apps? Is there any app that you use all the time that I forgot to mention?
Please, don't leave with any unanswered questions because I may have an answer, and we'll probably be helping someone else too. Just send me an email and I'll be glad to help.