According to Shalini Govil-Pai, the senior director of product management for Android TV, Android TV has “tens of millions of users” worldwide, with Europe being one of the leaders in the number of consumers.

People are using smart TV to stream their favorite movies and tv shows, be it Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, or other platforms. There are plenty of streaming services available on the market. But why not have it all and more in one place? Android TV lets you combine the movie library with all your favorite apps and digital content.

If you’re curious about what Android TV is, what it offers, and what you can do with it, check this guide!

What’s Android TV?

It came to life when Google retired its Google TV in 2014. Several years have passed since its humble beginning and today Android TV is one of the most popular operating systems for television sets, digital media players, and set-top boxes.

And that’s what Android TV is – a smart TV operating system that uses the same architecture as the mobile version of Android to bring content straight to your TV. You can quickly search for new movies and tv shows in the menu, and easily access the library thanks to the responsive interface.

But Android TV operating system is more than just a streaming service. It allows you to play games, and download your favorite apps, store and play your digital files, or even install third-party apps so you can flexibly maneuver on the platform.

What Can You Do With an Android TV – Features & Functionalities

In general, it works similarly to a regular TV. Only that it’s better as it’s much more developed and offers rich functionalities.

Let’s see what features Android TV offers and what you can do with them!

1. Manual Search

One of the ways to use Android TV is to search through the content manually.

The home screen has a user-friendly interface with row-based, vertical scrolling.

There’s also the “content discovery” section with suggested content, followed by “Watch Now” rows that surface media content from installed apps.

Basically, discovering new content with manual search is just like exploring YouTube, Google, or any other smart TV. It’s easy and effortless.

2. Android TV Apps

The Android ecosystem is known for supporting a wide selection of apps. If you’re looking for those, the Android TV won’t fail you. Although the TV doesn’t have such, you can find anything you want in the Google Play store and download it straight to your TV.

Here are some of the most popular apps you can get:

  • Video streaming apps
  • Music streaming apps
  • File managers
  • YouTube
  • Web browser
  • Live TV apps
  • Games
  • Apps for video calling

Note: remember that whether you have certain apps and content depends on the device you purchase. It’s similar to when you buy a new phone – some models have certain apps already installed, but others don’t. If you want to download your favorite content on your phone, you just need to get it on the Google Play Store. It’s the same with Android TV.

3. Voice Search

Voice search is a convenient form of the hunt for your desired content. You don’t have to type or scroll down infinitely to find what you’re looking for. It’s quick and effective. If you want to swiftly find a specific app, an answer to your question, or the latest blockbuster releases, just use the voice search feature.

Additionally, you can use the Assistant to control your smart home devices.

All you have to do is press the Voice Search button on your remote and explore with your voice. As simple as that!

4. Chromecast

With Google Chromecast, you can cast content to your Android TV.

Google Chromecast is a device that allows you to send things from one device to another. You simply connect it to your TV’s HDMI port and link it with your home network. You can use it to play content from your phone, tablet, or laptop right on your TV or speakers.

With Chromecast, you can eliminate the complexity of attaching other devices to your TV with multiple accessories, and get rid of problems with connectivity and lack of synchronization.

5. Settings & Preferences

With settings and preferences, you can personalize your user experience.

Options allow you to use the built-in screen reader, closed captions, and your phone to make your Android TV experience more accessible. You can also turn safe search, and change ad settings – control the personalization settings for ads on your Android TV, reset, or turn it off. 

There are many more smallish functionalities such as adding or removing channel rows, adding or removing shortcuts, channels, and more that help you customize your Android TV.

6. Android TV for developers

If you want to play your games or use custom-built apps, you can build new TV apps based on what you already know about building apps for Android. Or you have the option to extend your existing apps to also run on TV devices.

It’s a great option for developers who want to expand their content with custom-build apps to spice up their user experience.

How Do Android TV Devices Work?

Android TV setup is easy and you don’t have to be tech-savvy to start using it.

There are two ways to set up your Android TV. You can either buy a TV with an already installed Android TV, or get a dedicated device.

Let’s take a look at the two options.

1. Buy a TV with Android TV

Buying the right television is the easiest solution. There’s not much of a choice in the televisions that support Android TV, however. Among brands that have integrated Android TV are the popular Hisense, Sony, LG, Philips, or Sharp.

The only thing you need to do is to order a TV online, or go to a store and voila! – you can play with your purchase and discover its secrets.

But how to make sure you’re buying the right TV? It’s best to ask experts to get the most suitable television for your needs and budget. Or you can make your own research on the Internet.

2. Get a dedicated device

The second option is to buy a set-top box (STB). It’s a simple device that allows you to connect Android TV to the television, mainly through the HDMI port. It’s like connecting a gaming console to your TV.

Here, the choice is much broader than in the television sector. The most popular is Chromecast from Google, but other popular brands that offer Android TV boxes include Xiaomi, LG, NVIDIA, Amazon with its Fire TV cube (great for Alexa fans), and many more.

Pro tip: it’s worth having a helping hand in case you experience technical issues with your device. Just type “Android TV service near me” in your browser to find a service or a person you can turn to troubleshoot.

Should I buy an Android TV or a streaming box?

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for getting Android TV. It depends only on your needs.

Usually, it’s cheaper to buy a television since you don’t have to invest in additional equipment. But ultimately, it might be best to get a dedicated device because it gives you more flexibility – you can get a high-quality TV with better features.

Also, if you already have a well-working television, there’s no need to buy a new one. Just get an Android TV device at a reasonable price

Pros & Cons of Android TV

If you’re considering getting Android TV, take a look at the advantages and disadvantages.


  • User-friendly interface dedicated to quick and easy search, easy to navigate
  • Access to a large library of apps
  • Support and updates of the Android TV operating system
  • A lot of functionalities considerably expand its possibilities
  • Compatible with other Android devices
  • With Google Assistant, you can control Google Nest


  • Additional cost if you need to buy a dedicated device
  • Security may not be at its best
  • Not all apps are available in the store so you may need to sideload them

Overall, the pros outweigh the cons so if you decide to get the Android TV, you won’t regret your choice.

Helpful Tips

You don’t need encyclopedic knowledge to use a smart TV. But there are several things you can do that will improve your user experience.

Check these quick tips to maximize your Android TV operating system performance.

  1. Personal Bluetooth controller

In settings’ “Remotes & Accessories”, you can add a Bluetooth controller, and it can be anything you have at your hand, even an Xbox controller to use it as Android TV remote control. It’s also helpful for gaming.

  1. Sideloading apps

You can’t bring your own apps to the store unless you’re a developer. But you can do it in a different way – first, download apps that will help you use your own apps (there are plenty of them available on the Play store).

Just make sure to go to the settings and turn on the app from unknown sources, so the Android TV doesn’t block it.

  1. Use your phone as a remote

Because it’s much easier to use your phone to type rather than the remote. Or, you can connect a portable keyboard or a touchpad. It will also help with the sideloaded apps that don’t work too well with the remote.

  1. Customized view

Customize your Android TV homescreen to see only what you’re interested in. We’ve already mentioned that in one of our sections on “Settings & Preferences.” It can really save a lot of trouble.

  1. Extra storage space

Optimize your storage space by getting additional storage space. You will need a USB drive. Just make sure it’s compatible with your device or TV.

  1. Auto updates

You don’t have to do it manually. You’ll always be up to date, and save a lot of your time. To turn on auto updates navigate to the Settings.

  1. If you want more hacks and helpful information on using Android TV, we recommend the Reddit thread on the topic: r/AndroidTV. You can share your problems with the community, and learn new helpful things and tricks from other users.


It’s estimated that Android TV is likely approaching 50 million users globally. With its growing popularity, users can expect for it to improve and get more features in the future.

Android TV is probably one of the best smart TVs. It connects your home TV with your favorite games, apps, and even lets you use it to cast the screen of your computer. You can aggregate all your favorite content in one place and quickly access it at any time in any form.

Get your Android TV device, download the right apps to fully use its potential, and enjoy the unforgettable experience of using this great technology!