The Android TV platform is yet to have a formal launch but already we’re seeing surging interest and activity around it, which is always good for a nascent platform. First there is that unofficial port that will let you install Android TV on an OUYA. Now even SuperSU creator Chainfire is jumping in with Sideload Launcher for Android TV, a handy little utility that will unhide regular Android apps that you might have indirectly installed on Google’s fancy new entertainment platform.
Android TV is technically a full Android system but its use case dictates a different form of user interface. The launcher for Android TV itself, nicknamed “Lean Back”, has been revamped to accommodate that, but it has also imposed a somewhat superficial requirement on apps. While you can definitely sideload and run regular Android apps on Android TV, they will not appear on the Lean Back interface unless the apps have been updated and advertise themselves as compatible.
Chainfire’s utility solves that with a very simple fix. Sideload Launcher practically exposes those sideloaded apps’ icons on Android TV, which means you will be able to launch them normally. Of course, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should as apps that aren’t designed or optimized yet for Android TV might not look or even work well on a large screen. Users who insist on doing so should be aware that problems arising from it should not immediately be blamed on the Android TV platform itself.
Sideload Launcher is available on Google Play Store but unless you have the ADT-1 dev kit, a Nexus Player, or perhaps an OUYA, you won’t be able to install it, much less use it. Chainfire claims he doesn’t foresee this app to be popular, but we’ll have to confirm that once Android TV finally lands. Sometimes, it is the little, seemingly inconsequential tools like these that make a platform worth using.