One of the great things about an Android TV box is that you aren’t restricted in what you can install on your streaming device; however, if you install an app on your Android TV box that is designed to be used on an Android smartphone in portrait mode, it can look strange until you rotate your Android TV/Firestick screen to landscape mode.
Some Android TV boxes will restrict you from downloading incompatible apps, or you might have an Amazon Firestick, in which case you will have a more limited selection of applications in the Amazon app store. Even this isn’t a boundary for Android TV users, as you can still sideload the apps that you want to use.
You might find, though, that the app is limited to a strip in the center of your screen, that the content uses your whole screen but you need to cock your head to one side to read it, or that the portrait content is stretched to fill your screen and just looks weird.
Don’t worry! You aren’t the first to have dealt with this problem, and multiple developers have created apps that can fix this problem for you. Let’s take a look at exactly how you can rotate your screen to landscape when needed.
Why Aren’t Apps Appearing In Landscape Mode?
Pretty much any app that you can download from the Google Play Store for your Android smartphone you can also download onto your Android TV box, even when they aren’t designed to be used with a TV.
It’s common to wonder, then, why apps that have both a portrait and a landscape mode on your smartphone, and effectively switch between the two as you rotate it, get stuck in portrait mode on your TV.
This is because apps are built to automatically register which way you are holding your phone using the data that your phone transmits to the app. Android TV boxes don’t transmit any data regarding their screen orientation, forcing the app to go to default mode–which is usually portrait.
That is why you are stuck looking at an app in portrait mode when you know that the app is capable of delivering in landscape. In order to deal with this problem, you need an app that tells your other apps that your screen is in landscape mode, and therefore to deliver their content that way.
Here are our top two choices.
Set Orientation App
This app has been around since 2015, but it is probably still the best tool for getting your screen rotation right with minimal effort.
You can download the Set Orientation app here, and simply sideload it onto your Android TV box or Firestick like you would any other app. Need help? Read our guide to sideloading apps onto your Android TV box.
This app will run in the background of your box, doing nothing most of the time but kicking in when it encounters a problem app. When you install the app, simply choose whether you want apps to display in portrait or landscape (the app was initially designed for smartphones) and then the app will do the rest. It will automatically detect apps that aren’t working in the chosen orientation and change them.
Rotation Manager Control App
If you prefer to get something from the Play Store, then head there and install the Rotation Manager Control app. There are both a free and a premium version to choose from.
Again, you can set the app to automatic mode and it will force all apps to display in landscape, but you can also enable something called “permanent notification mode” which lets you change the orientation of an individual app while using it without having to exit the app to enter the Rotation Manager separately. This addition is more useful for smartphone users than TV box users, but you never know when it will come in handy.
Should You Sideload Apps Onto Your Android TV Box?
When you download and install apps that aren’t designed for an Android TV box and they don’t work the way they should, you discover the reason why they aren’t available for you to download from the app store in the first place.
Besides being a little annoying, and not looking as good as they could, are there any risks associated with sideloading apps onto your Android TV box?
Android considers sideloading apps a security risk, which is why the feature is blocked when you first get your device, and you have to turn on the ability to install apps from unknown sources.
Whether a sideloaded app is actually dangerous to your device, though, depends on where it comes from. For example, developers often make their own applications for their own purposes, and since it is not for anyone else they don’t want to jump through the hoops of putting it in the app store. They made the app themselves and trust it, and therefore the risks are fairly low.
Then there are apps that haven’t been designed to use on devices like Android TV, but you still want to use them. One example of this is Google Chrome, a trusted app that you can’t download onto Android TV because it only has touchscreen and desktop versions. The risks associated with downloading this app are pretty minimal. The same is true for TikTok, which again doesn’t have a good app for Android TV since the app is best enjoyed on a device with a camera.
Unfortunately, though, there are also less trustworthy apps out there which haven’t been made available via the app store for a reason. Some are just poorly designed, while some are deliberately created to be harmful to your device. Given all the variation in apps and availability, the best thing you can do when deciding whether to sideload an app or not is to do your due diligence. There are big communities online dedicated to determining whether apps are safe and effective; it shouldn’t take too long to verify whether an app is safe or not.
We sideload apps all the time, since we like to be able to experiment with our Android TV box and to play games and more. If you use a little common sense, sideloading doesn’t pose a particular risk for Android TV box users.
How do I use my Android TV box in portrait mode?
If for some reason you want to use apps on your Android TV in portrait mode, you can use the same applications that we have already talked about to force the apps into portrait mode instead of landscape.
How do I change the aspect ratio on my Android TV box?
You can change the screen aspect ratio on your Android TV box in the setting menu. There you should find something along the lines of “screen aspect ratio” within the system options. Then simply choose the ratio that you would prefer. 4:3 is the standard ratio for ordinary televisions, 16:9 is the widescreen measurement for standard definition TV’s, and 720p (standard) and 1080p (widescreen) are used on high-definition screens.
How does Android screen rotation work?
Your Android smartphone determines whether you are holding your phone in landscape or portrait mode based on your phone’s accelerometer. That is why it works well when you are standing up, but can feel a bit glitchy if you are using your phone while lying in bed.
Since many of us do use our phones in bed, Android is actually dealing with this problem. With the Android 12 operating system, your smartphone will also use your front-facing camera as a guide to whether you most likely want landscape or portrait mode. Presumably this will be an option that you will be able to turn on and off, since not everyone likes the idea of their camera watching them all the time.
When you are using apps on your Android TV box that weren’t actually designed to be used on Android TV, problems can emerge. One of the most common is apps not receiving information about the rotation of your screen (as it does with your smartphone) and therefore dishing you up apps in portrait rather than landscape mode.
The easiest way to fix this problem is to install one more app! There are a number of apps out there that will tell all the other apps that you use that your screen is in landscape mode. They will therefore deliver you their content in landscape, and use the full potential of your widescreen TV.
Have you used any of the screen rotation apps that we have talked about? Share your experience with the community in the comments section below.