So, you’ve taken the big step and you are now happily cordless. You’ve got yourself a brand-new Android TV box and it seems like it’s a much better deal, but it’s up to you to populate it. The device seems limitless, and that can be a little daunting. Let’s take a look at the best apps to install on your Android TV box.
- Anti-virus app
The first thing you need to know is that any device with an internet connection is vulnerable to malware, spyware, viruses, and other virtual attacks, so being protected is an absolute must, including when it comes to your TV box. An anti-virus is a no-brainer with any device, so you’ll want to get one you trust.
Now, you can go with whatever software you are already using for other devices you own, like your laptop or phone, or you can pick something different. Virtually every anti-virus software will offer some sort of limited free trial (typically 30 days) to give you a chance to try it out and see how you like it. Make sure that whichever one you pick is appropriate for your device and offers you the level of protection you desire.
And right after the anti-virus, you’re going to need a VPN. The reason for this is two-fold. First, certain websites have an aggravating habit of restricting their content for certain geographical areas. That’s fine, until you want to watch something and you’re not allowed to access it. But in comes the VPN – this allocates an IP address from one of the greenlit geographical areas, thus allowing you access to the content you want. Neat, huh?
Second, a VPN is a security measure. Because it conceals your browsing activity, no one can gain access to that and use it to target you for annoying ads based on your perceived preferences.
You probably don’t need anyone to try to convince you to download Netflix. In fact, you probably already have it. But just in case you don’t, let’s talk about why Netflix is so great – there are thousands upon thousands of TV shows and movies just waiting to be discovered.
Yes, there are other similar services – and we’ll talk about some of them – but Netflix is arguably the most popular. The selection will differ, depending on the time of year; as new titles join the library, some older ones will leave, according to contracts and such, so if there’s anything that’s an absolute must on your list, binge now, not later.
Plus, there’s even 4K content available, if your TV/box combo allow for that kind of technology.
If you travel and miss your content when you’re away, Plex is your guy, because it gives you access to all your favorites, no matter where you are in the world. But let’s say you’re just at home all the time – if you’ve got multiple devices (and most people do) and you want to enjoy your content on all of them (and most people do), then what you want is to get yourself something like Plex.
In short, what Plex does is it makes it possible for whatever content you are streaming via your TV box (or any other device) to be available on any other device, from PCs to phones.
- File management app
Since you’re installing apps on your box, things are bound to get a little crowded and disorganized, so you’ll want something to keep things neat and tidy. In comes a file management app like ES File Explorer to save the day. It’s not a fancy piece of software – it just literally helps you organize your files.
It’s got nifty little categories (music, video, etc.) and you can even connect to Google Drive or your choice of cloud storage and share your files. That makes it extremely convenient to go back and forth between different types of content or files, especially when you’re trying to share from one device to another.
If ESPN is what you’ve been missing in your life since you became a cord cutter, you’ll be glad to hear that you can bring it back – in bite-sized chunks. This app allows you to remain thoroughly “plugged in” the sports world and hear about all the important highlights.
You were probably already checking websites several times a day, so this just saves you some clicks and a lot of time by actually showing you what you want to see and what you should know. Every true sports fan should have this installed on their TV box. Not that anyone will come and check, but you never know.
- Amazon Prime Video
The other mammoth streaming service that’s Netflix’s main competitor is Amazon Prime Video. We can’t recommend one, but not the other, simply because they’re both excellent services and they offer different content – that’s how they get you.
Like Netflix, Amazon offers its own set of high-quality original content that you may not want to miss, and there are all kinds of offers throughout the year, that may enable you to get your streaming for a lower price. Plus, you also benefit from the Amazon Prime service when you shop on Amazon, so get that 2-day shipping.
- News app
Now that you’ve got yourself a TV box, you’ll probably be spending an inordinate amount of time on it, which might cut into your regular programming, including news. Make sure you don’t fall behind on what’s going on in the world; you can avoid that by installing a news app, like Haystack TV.
You get a feed that lets you know the headlines from various news outlets, and they range from serious to light and fluffy. You can even blacklist certain topics you’re sick of hearing about, whether that’s a certain unpopular president or some reality TV celeb you can’t stand.
- Search engine app
Since your TV box basically works like another device, just like your computer or phone, it makes sense that you’d install a search engine. Google Chrome is probably your best bet, but there are certainly others you can download, if you get on better with them.
You may think that it’s unnecessary to install this, but think about it – when you’re on the box and wanting to look for something, do you really want to stop, look for your phone or laptop, and then search for what you want? It’s a lot of extra steps that you can just avoid if you’ve got a search engine app ready to go.
- MX Player
A media player is a must, and if you’re an Android user, that probably means you’re looking at getting MX Player. And there are very good reasons for that: it’s a high-quality product, it’s reliable, and it’s very popular, as most Android users can vouch for it.
MX Player supports all file and content formats, so you won’t run into annoying issues where the player will not be able to play your file because it doesn’t recognize the format. You just click and play, and there’s really nothing easier than that, is there? There’s not much to say about it, other than the fact that it works.
When you switch from cable to a TV box, it’s not enough to plug the box in and get started; you’ve got to populate that box, first. That means downloading some apps to make your streaming experience convenient, complete, and enjoyable.
Some apps are more necessary than others, but each of these apps will contribute to your experience. Particularly when it comes to apps like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, they’re the ones that will supply you with the content you’re missing from your cable subscription.