Android TV is a special and distinct version of the Android operating system that looks and works like a Smart TV and is operated by a controller rather than a touch screen. It’s found on some brands of flat screens and also on several digital media players.
The Popcorn Time Android TV app is a fork of the regular Android app modified to work with Android TV developed by the people behind the official Popcorn Time app over from popcorntime.io.
At this point, the app has been in development for months but has only just been released to the public. It’s a work in progress and some functions such as VPN haven’t been implemented yet but as it looks they will be in the near future.
We’ve tried it out on a Google Nexus Player and the verdict is that it’s very promising for Android TV device owners but still has a bit of way to go to be just as stable as the desktop and regular Android counterparts.
However, when it does work it does so very well and you just can’t beat the convenience of operating everything directly on the flatscreen.
The Popcorn Time Android TV app is, of course, not to be found in the Google Play app store so you need to download the installation file yourself and install it manually. Due to the difference in regular Android and Android TV this isn’t as straightforward as it may sound but if you follow the thorough instructions below you’ll be guided through every step of the process. The good news is that once installed the app will update itself automatically whenever a new version is released.
The app should work for any Android TV device provided installation of apps from unknown sources can be enabled and that there’s enough space on the internal storage to contain whatever you’re trying to watch.
Android and Android TV are similar but distinct operating systems. If you have a regular Android device (smartphone or tablet) please refer to our article on Popcorn Time for Android.
The following steps should be completely safe to perform on any Android TV device but since we obviously haven’t tested it on every one out there we make no guarantees and you proceed at your own risk.
Installing Popcorn Time on Android TV
Installing an Android TV app is just as simple as installing any other app not found in the Google Play app store: You download the installation file (apk), run it and follow the instruction.
Unfortunately, Android TV doesn’t come with an internet browser to download the file or a file manager to run it so it takes a little workaround to get things, well, working.
To succesfully complete these next steps you need:
- An Android TV device (where you want to install the Popcorn Time app e.g, a Nexus Player)
- Make sure to enable Unknown Sources under Settings->Security & restrictions to allow installation of the app, otherwise it won’t work.
- A regular Android device (smartphone or tablet)
- A computer, any PC will do
- The steps performed on the computer can also be done on the regular Android device if you enable Request desktop site in the browser.
- All devices need to be logged in to Google on the same account
- Both Android devices need to be on the same local network
This method doesn’t only work for Popcorn Time but for any Android TV app you can’t find in the Android TV app store. Regular Android apps will run but probably won’t work very well since they’re not designed for the Android TV GUI.
Step 1: Install ES File Explorer
ES File Explorer (ESFE) is an android file manager that works well on both regular Android and Android TV. Furthermore, it can be installed directly from Google Play which we need since we don’t have a browser on the Android TV device.
We need ESFE to transfer the installation file (apk) to the Android TV device and also to subsequently install it. For this guide we’ll assume you’re not using ESFE already and need to install it on both Android devices.
- On the PC go to ES File Explorer on Google Play and click the Install button.
- The button will say Installed if you already have ESFE on on of your devices. Click it anyway.
- You’ll see a drop-down menu with all Android devices (past and present) that have been logged in using this Google account. Install ESFE on the Android TV device and the regular Android device too.
- You can, of course, also install ESFE on your regular Android device using the Google Play app.
If both devices are connected to the internet the app should be installed on both shortly hereafter. We now have a way to browse files on the Android TV device and also a channel to transfer files between the Android devices which is why they need to be on the same local network.
Step 2: Download the Popcorn Time Android TV apk file on the regular Android device
Before you go further you need to find out what type of CPU (processor) your Android TV device uses: ARM or x86. You need this piece of information to select the right apk. Alas, there’s no easy way of telling and you need to do a bit of research. If you’re using the Nexus Player you’re in luck since we already know that it’s running on an x86.
- On your regular Android device, go to the Official Popcorn Time download page (here) and look for the Android TV version.
- Since popcorntime.io is currently down try Popcorn Time CE instead.
- Download the one suited for the CPU on your Android TV device.
- Wait for the download to finish.
If you can’t figure out if your Android TV device is running on x86 or ARM there’s no need to panic; just try out one of them and if it doesn’t work retry with the other (be sure to delete the files and or uninstall the app if it came that far).
Step 3: Transfer the apk file to the Android TV device
By now you should have your two Android devices on the same local network with ESFE installed on both of them and the Popcorn Time Android TV apk file downloaded to the regular Android device.
- On the Android TV device, open the ESFE app.
- On the regular Android device, open the ESFE app and navigate to where the apk was downloaded.
- Long-tap (tap and hold) the apk file you just downloaded until a context menu appears. Click More (three dots) and choose Send.
- The app will now search for other sessions of ESFE running on the same local network and should discover your Android TV device. Select it, click Send and confirm with an OK on the Android TV device. Select a download folder, click OK again and in a few seconds the apk file will be transferred.
- Once the file has been transferred select Open, Install and yet again Install.
- After a little while the app has been installed and the process is completed by selecting Done or Open.
Step 4: Enjoy!