Android TV – Replace Default Home With 3rd Party Launcher

I recently purchased an Nvidia Shield TV to replace my ancient crappy android TV box that was some ALLCAPS Amazon brand. The Shield TV is great but the default Android TV home screen leaves a lot to be desired. Its incredibly busy looking, hard to find what you’re looking for and the ads/recommendations are very distracting. Looking around online I did see that it was possible to still add a 3rd party launcher, which I had vaguely remembered doing with my initial Android TV box. Unfortunately instructions were a bit all over the place so I thought I’d gather them all here in one place as a reminder to myself in the future, and that hopefully other people will find useful.

First things first, most of the credit belongs to Reddit user u/kurmudgeon and this post. Follow his exact instructions to get your device in developer mode and to prep the device for the new launcher.

Accessing Developer Mode
Setting Up ADB

Here are a couple of notes on the above. To find environmental variables just type it into the search bar, or launch control panel, then search for it within the control panel. It’ll look something like this.

Opening Environmental Variables
Set the path to the location of your extracted ADB file. In my case C:\platform-tools.

Now open powershell as an administrator.

Once your session has started change your working directory to C:\platform-tools. This is missing from the original instructions. If you just type out the commands as outlined with out being in the correct folder you’ll get error messages.

Once your in powershell type cd C:\platform-tools\ or whatever directory path you extracted SDK too.

Now follow the rest of the instructions as normal.

Once you’ve successfully completed the steps you can go back on your Win10 machine, and remove the environmental variable you set (not the whole thing just the c:\platform-tools part). And delete the SDK from your computer as well.

Other notes about this process:

  • I tried the wolf launcher and ATV Launcher Pro. Both were not as good as SideloadChannelLauncherv3 in my opinion. ATV launcher I used for a while with my previous box is a bit buggy and slow. Not what you’re looking for in a TV interface. Wolf Launcher is a bit sketchy, you’ll have to manually upgrade when the time comes and I just didnt think it offered the level of customization that SideloadChannelLauncherv3 does.
  • When you’re editing the tiles it can take a bit to get used to how to do it. You can do things like add empty rows, then hide the row label and icon to provide spacing.
  • You can also add spacing left or right to widgets and icons. For example with my home screen I had spacing on the right set to 800 off of the clock icon to get it and the weather widget to line up like I wanted it too.
  • I set my row sizes to 120 and row image size to 100 to get the spacing and look I wanted.
  • I went with the MacroPinch Weather widget for my install. Nice and clean look, was easy to configure as well.

You’ll probably want to install some form of downloader and browser as well. I went with Downloader by AFTVnews and the TVBro browser which seem to be the two highest recommended apps at the time. Here’s some quick notes on getting those installed.

  • Just go to the play store and search for Downloader by AFTNews and install. It should be an orange and white looking icon.
  • When you open the app you’ll get a prompt to allow the app to have access to photos, media and files on the device. Click allow so that you can download files using the app.
  • The first time you run the app you’ll need to install the browser through the app. You should see a screen that says “Enter a URL or Search Term:” type in the following:
  • You’ll get a prompt to install the plugin, then another prompt warning you about needing permission to install unknown apps from this source.
  • When you click on settings you’ll be allowed to select Downloader and tell it to allow the program to install unknown apps. Then you’ll go back to app and select install again.
  • Now you can follow this guys instructions to get the TV Bro Browser, and a bunch of other stuff installed.
  • Basically in the downloader search bar look for hit go.
  • Look for the hamburger icon in the top left of the page and click downloads.
  • You’ll see a long list of apps available. Scroll down to the Web Browsers section and click TV Bro.
  • Scroll down to the download now button on this page, click it then click install.

The only other thing I did at this point was to use the browser to search for some background images to use. I just searched for Android TV backgrounds in Google found a couple I liked and downloaded them locally so that I could switch through them.

Here is what the end result looked like.

Nice and clean layout.

As compared to the default layout….

Leave a Comment