So you can get better use of your Smart TV with Android TV / Google TV without paying anything. The secret is open source apps

On various occasions we have talked about the advantages of Android TV / Google TV. In fact, and on a personal level, it’s the operating system I choose when buying a new TV. Because of the potential that access to the Play Store offers, and also because of the use of applications that I’ve already bought for the mobile that sometimes work perfectly.

But aside from that, there’s more life outside of the Google Play Store. Applications that we can install without having to go through the official store by getting .APK files, some of which are unreleased, open source applications or software. And now we’re going to see some that are pretty interesting.

Open Source Apps

But before we start, we will look at what an open source application or also called open source consists of. One of these types is software whose source code is publicly available and can be reviewed, modified, and distributed by anyone free of charge. Open source application developers allow other users to access their code and improve, fix, or customize their software according to the needs of the community.

This means that anyone can contribute to improving the application, either by fixing bugs, adding new features or improving the security of the software. Open source applications differ from proprietary or closed source applications, whose source code is proprietary and not publicly available.

We can find open source applications for any operating system on sites of the likes of GitHub or GitLab, and Android TV or Google TV are no exception. There are developers who skip the Play Store and have their applications hosted for anyone to “play” with. And these are some of the most interesting.

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Open source customization

For example, as an alternative to launchers to change the appearance of the screen, we have open source options of the likes of FLauncher, a launcher that has no ads and offers interesting features such as customizable categories, wallpaper support and uninstalling apps directly from the home screen . And the good thing is that it has no ads and that it is also in this link on the play store.

Another example is aLauncher. A launcher based on the previous one, so offering a similar design. Of course there are some changes detailed in the repository such as allowing for creating a completely empty category (and using it as a spacer) or improving vertical scrolling on an empty row tip. You can download it here.

And continuing with the customization, we also have screensavers. One of my favorites is Aerial Dream, a screensaver similar to Apple TV. And in this sense, in addition to the option in Google Play, we can also opt for Aerial Views, an app available in the Google Play Store but also in the official repository in the “Releases” section.

A screensaver compatible with Dolby Vision content on compatible TVs that includes a mode for preventing burn-in on OLED panels, the option to play videos from a local network and the ability to skip the video displayed on the screen .

Audio and video streaming

Streaming doesn’t escape open source applications either, so we’ve found an alternative to Flickr, for example, which may be in the doldrums but is still a reference app for photo lovers. The app is called Photo Search, a client that brings us images from Flickr and with an interface adapted to TV screens in which we can also search for images.

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If you’re a SoundCloud user, an online music platform that allows users to share, listen, and download music for free, you might be interested in SoundOnFire, a small app built with Flutter. You can download it from the repository that the developers use to listen to thousands of songs from TV by different artists.

We’ve seen photos and audio and now with Race Control TV we touch streaming video. It is an app based on the official Formula 1 API and used to display all the on-demand content of the official F1 site. You can download it here and it allows you to change the language of the audio and the ability to choose the quality of the video.

media player

Another category is that of media players. Apart from the ubiquitous VLC, there is life after death and DangoPlayer TV, an ideal player to use with IPTV lists (works with M3U and M3U8 lists) which is free and which you can download from this link.

Another option is Jellyfin Android TV, an app that allows content to be shared as it streams but also sent to Chromecast or DLNA compatible devices. You can download it from Google Play Store and also from Repository.

Utilities for everything

It’s not normal, but there may be times when you want to use the TV as a computer. And to that end, they developed MATVT, which is an acronym for Mouse for Android TV Toggle. It’s an app that can be downloaded from the GitHub repository and is used to activate an on-screen cursor that resembles a traditional mouse.

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If you continue navigating, you can download an app like VitaBrowser from this link. A lightweight browser It doesn’t require powerful hardware to work and can be a great alternative to browsers that come with TVs.

Another strange app is Displayer, available in their repository. It’s interesting to use the TV as if it were a screen to show advertisements. You can import images used to display posters and advertisements, in the style of what appears in public places.

You can see how there is life beyond the official Android TV/Google TV app store. Free and open source applications that help us get more out of our televisions and devices that we use as multimedia centers.

In Xataka SmartHome | I bought a high end TV and that’s all I made right out of the box