Google TV gives the new Chromecast a home screen full of curated content from your various streaming subscriptions, but that’s just it – a home screen app. Below, Google’s new dongle runs Android TV, which means that the home screen is just a home application that can be installed on countless other TVs and digital boxes.
Google may eventually make this new interface available for other Android TVs like Nvidia Shield, Mi Box and Sony TVs, but until then you can recharge it. You need to use a computer to send an ADB command to the TV, but that process has become so streamlined recently that it practically points and clicks.
What you need
- Android TV device running Android 9 or higher
- Windows, Mac or Linux computer
Step 1: Download the Google TV LauncherX home screen app
On your computer, start by downloading LauncherX. This is the actual home screen app, extracted from the new Chromecast, that provides the Google TV interface.
Now you need to page load that file to your Android TV device. Here is a short guide to it:
- Upload the LauncherX APK to Google Drive.
- Install File Commander from the Play Store on your TV.
- Add your Google Drive account to File Commander.
- Click on the APK to download and then open it.
- Click “Settings” in the pop-up window, and then enable the “Install other apps” permission for File Commander.
- Return to Google Drive in File Commander.
- Click LauncherX APK again.
- Click “Install” in the message.
If this is your first time downloading an app on Android TV or if you just want a little more help with this part, check out our full tutorial below:
Step 2: Activate developer options
On your TVyou will need to enable the hidden developer options menu next. For most devices, go to the Main Settings list, select “Device Settings” and then “About”. You can find the “About” menu elsewhere on some TVs.
Once in the “About” menu, scroll down and highlight Build list. Now press OK or Select on the remote control 7 times in quick succession. It’s like you quickly click on the building number over and over again. When you do it right, a toast message will say “You are now a developer!”
Step 3: Enable wireless troubleshooting
Now go into the recently unlocked menu by going to the list of Android TV settings, selecting “Device Settings” and then scrolling all the way down to the bottom and selecting “Developer Options”.
Activate the switch next to “Network troubleshooting” about halfway through the list. After 5 or 10 seconds, the text under the label “Network Troubleshooting” should change to say “Enabled on” and then an IP address. Take a picture of this IP address, you will need it later.
Some devices may not have the wireless debugging option, in which case you will need to enable USB debugging (even in developer options) and connect your computer to your TV or set-top box with a USB cable.
Step 4: Get the Google Platform Tool
Back to your computer now, download the Google Platform Tool. This is a small, first-party ZIP that contains files that allow your computer to communicate with your TV or digital box using ADB commands.
After downloading, extract the ZIP to the desktop. You want to place platform tools folder directly on the desktop.
Step 5: Open a command window in Platform-Tools
If you are using Windows, press the Windows key on your keyboard, then type “cmd” and press enter to open a command prompt. If you are using Linux or Mac, simply open the “Terminal” app.
Write now CD in the prompt, then add a space, but do not press Enter yet. Instead, drag the Platform Tools folder that you extracted from the desktop and drop it directly on top of the command window. This fills in the location of the folder. When it does, press Enter.
Step 6: Connect to the TV
If you had to use USB troubleshooting in step 3, go ahead and connect your computer to your TV or digital box. If you could use wireless troubleshooting, make sure your TV and computer are on the same network, and then type the following in the command prompt:
If you are using Linux or Mac and get a “Command not found” error after sending the above command, you only need to resend it with a period and a slash at the beginning. So copy and paste the following command, replace the IP address with yours, then press enter and you should see Unable to authenticate wrong.
“Could not authenticate” sounds bad, but it’s good. This means that your command window is working properly, and ADB is watching TV on your network, but you just have not allowed the connection yet.
Over on your TV, you should see a popup now. Use the arrow keys to select the check box next to “Always allow from this computer” and then press OK or Select on the remote control to activate it. When activated, select “OK” in the message.
Back to your computer, click the command window once to make sure it is selected, and then press the up arrow on the keyboard. This will fill in the last command you sent so you do not have to type it again. So when you see the command “adb connect” again, press enter and it should say Connected or Already connected.
Step 7: Disable the Home screen app
Now copy the following command and paste it into the command prompt. Go ahead and press enter, then almost immediately the terminal should return a “Success” message.
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.tvlauncher
Again, if you get the error “Command not found”, send the command again with a ./ at the beginning and you should get the message “Success”:
./adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.tvlauncher
If you are still having problems, you may need to install ADB drivers on your computer. See our complete guide below for troubleshooting steps to get ADB connected.
Step 8: Make sure Google TV is the default launcher
Now press the home button on your remote control and you will be greeted by the Google TV installation guide. If you do not see a prompt – select “TV Home” and select “Always” to make it your default image on the Home screen. Then you should see the installation question for Google TV.
Step 9: Enjoy Google TV!
Now you’re ready to play with the next generation of user interfaces. Your home screen is it To you the tab, which begins with a line of “Top picks for you”, followed by a customizable line with your 12 best apps and a button for all apps. As you keep scrolling down, you begin to see why it’s so nice – the recommendations are really many, and if you’re a regular Google user, they’s good too.
For YouTube TV users, live The tab is basically an integrated version of your live TV guide. The Movies and Shows the tab is very much like To you, only filtered by media type.
You will notice some minor issues like search the tab sometimes kicks you back to To you the tab after a janky animation. LauncherX may be dependent on additional apps from the new Chromecast device for some features, so I’ll continue tipping with page loaders and updating this page if I find any fixes.
Returns to the old home screen
If you decide you want to go back to your TV’s old boot program, repeat steps 5 and 6 to get the ADB running again, and then send the command below. Afterwards, just press the home button on the remote control and the Google TV interface should be gone.
adb shell cmd package install-existing com.google.android.tvlauncher
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