When you turn on your TV that is connected to your Android TV box, the home screen you see that allows you to navigate, launch your apps, and gives you recommendations is your TV launcher.
Most Android TV boxes will come with Android’s default TV launcher, while some boxes–such as the Fire Stick and the Dynalink–might have custom launchers. These usually do the job pretty well, but sometimes you want to be able to do something different with your TV, or you just want a change. You can achieve this by installing an alternative launcher on your Android TV box.
Most are downloadable directly from the Google Play Store, or your Android TV box might have options for sideloading if there is something you want outside the store.
Interested in switching it up, but not sure where to start? Why not try out one of our top 5 recommended Android TV launchers for 2021?
Don’t worry, if you don’t like your launcher, you can always uninstall it and return to your default!
- ATV Launcher – best for simplicity and some minor tweaks
- HALauncher – best for quick access to sideloaded apps
- Top TV Launcher 2 – best for detailed visual design
- TvHome Launcher – best if you like the Samsung design
- Simple TV Launcher – best if you only use a few apps regularly
5 Best Launchers For Android TV Box
1. ATV Launcher
ATV launcher is one of the most popular alternative launchers for an Android TV box, mostly because it is not that different from the classic launcher. Basically, it keeps everything that is good about the standard launcher, but then adds useful customization features.
You can add the weather and time as default information, add app widgets, choose your background imagery, and decide how your navigation tiles are laid out. You can even set it up for d-pad (touchpad) navigation if you like working with that type of remote.
This option is definitely a top choice if you like the classic Android launcher, but you want to change the aesthetics of your home screen by adding your own images and color schemes. This is the major element missing from the classic launcher.
Principal among these is that it gives you the option to see recent apps at the top of the screen. We all know that we almost always use the same five apps every time we turn on the TV, so this is good. Especially beneficial is that this will also include sideloaded apps, and not just Google Play Store apps unlike the classic launcher.
You can also customize the background and the artwork to help make your home screen feel more like a welcoming place, and not a barrier that you have to pass through in order to get to your content.
While it doesn’t feel like much creativity was put into the naming of this application, it is one that will appeal to creative types. In particular, it is ideal for designers who want close control of their visual display.
The app has a built-in layout editor, very similar to the drag and drop website builders that most people use today. Beyond just the layout, you can customize the widgets themselves, creating your own tiles with their editor or by uploading an image of your choice.
There are lots of other little touches on top of this such as no ads, custom wallpaper support, and pin-protected apps.
It uses a minimalist and highly visual design that is very reminiscent of the interfaces on these big-name TVs. Installed apps are shown in a horizontal link at the bottom of the screen, leaving the top free for video content or other visuals.
Find out more about Samsung’s Tizen TV operating system here.
There are just six spaces on the main screen for apps, and you can choose which ones you want to be shown there. When you need to do something unusual, there is a small icon in the top left that allows you to access a complete list of your apps.
While the interface is simple, the launcher is a bit complex and you need to install it from GitHub rather than the app store, so you will need to know what you are doing to start using it.
Find out more about sideloading apps onto your Android TV box here.
How To Install A New Android TV Launcher?
If you are downloading your alternative launcher from the Google Play Store, it will be incredibly easy to install and get running. There are a few extra steps in the process if you sideload, but it is still accessible to almost anyone.
Once your new launcher is downloaded and installed, simply open the app. The first time you launch the app you will probably be offered the option of choosing your new launcher as your default application. You should check the “always” option if you are going to use it as your new launcher so you don’t have to make that selection each time you open the app.
This may be enough to have your new app override your default launcher setting, but if it doesn’t seem to be working, you will need to disable the default launcher.
To do this, navigate to “system applications” and find the “Android TV Home” app. Access its menu and choose to “delete default actions.” This should stop the application from initiating when you start up your box, allowing your new launcher to take over.
What is an Android TV launcher?
The Android TV launcher is the application that controls your home screen. This includes what it looks like, navigation, and recommendations that you might be provided. This launcher can be replaced with alternative options, available from the Google Play Store or sideloaded from other sources.
How do I change the launcher on my Android TV device?
Changing the launcher on your Android TV device is a simple process. Simply download the alternative launcher that you would like to use and, after installing, choose to use its settings by default. This should override Android’s master launcher application. If not, after downloading the app, go in and disable the out-of-the-box launcher manually.
What is Leanback Launcher?
Leanback Launcher is the custom Android launcher used on Amazon Fire TV products. It is customized to ensure that users download apps from the Amazon store for maximum compatibility, and to highlight recommendations from Amazon. It also links to the Amazon Echo voice command and smart home features.
If you aren’t happy with your home page and navigation system, or you just want to mix things up a bit, installing a new TV launcher on your Android TV box can make a big difference.
The fact that you can’t customize backgrounds and color schemes seems like a big oversight with Android TV’s current launcher, but the recommended Android TV launchers on our list will let you do more than that. You can completely reconfigure your home screen to prioritize what is important to you, even if this includes sideloaded apps that don’t always play so well with the pure Android system.
Finding what you want can be a case of trial and error, as you tend to need to live with a launcher for a few days to decide if you really like it, but most launchers are available directly from the Google Play Store. Installing them is quick and simple and playing around with them can be enjoyable, so why not take the time to experiment?
What’s your favorite launcher for your Android TV box? Share your recommendations with the community in the comments section below.