How to change the home screen on your Google TV


Google TV (known as Android TV until recently) used to be pretty clean — there were a bunch of apps, a few video suggestions, and not much else. But not anymore.

The platform’s home screen now has a large section promoting shows about services you may not subscribe to, as well as algorithmically curated recommendations and trailers. There’s also a smaller suite of apps amidst everything, which can make it difficult to find what you’re actually looking for.

If you’ve fallen victim to the Google TV redesign, you should know that you can clean up the mess by downloading a launcher. These apps act like a coat of paint on an operating system, changing its appearance but leaving the core functionality intact.

A third-party launcher isn’t the system default, so the only limitation with this approach is that you have to open the app every time you turn on your TV. It might seem like a drag, but you can remap your Google TV remote to assign an unused button to quickly summon the launcher for you.

There are several download options available on the Google Play Store. These are our favourites.

FLauncher is completely free and open source, which means it contains no ads. It’s also probably the most feature-rich launcher we’ve found, and the first on this list to try. It looks like a simple grid of apps, but you can press and hold on any of them to move them around, hide them, or uninstall them entirely—all without leaving the launcher.

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[Related: How to make Android look like iOS]

You can also create custom categories to organize your apps. For example, you can keep your sports services in one list, your TV and movie services in another, and your system utilities at the bottom.

There are a few other nice features, like a shortcut to system settings and the ability to choose a wallpaper from the built-in gallery or set one up from a USB drive. FLauncher really doesn’t look like much, but it does everything you need it to, meaning you’ll never have to see the default home screen again.

The name is a bit absurd – they might as well have called it “Launchy McLaunchface”. But don’t let that put you off because this free, ultra-minimalist launcher gets the job done. You get a grid of apps and… that’s about it. You cannot sort or remove tools from the list.

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The main customization you get with Launchy Launcher is the ability to add wallpapers, either by selecting one of your own photos with a USB drive, or by browsing a free collection of images. This app may seem way too simple, but you can make it look really great with just a few keystrokes.

Sure, Launchy Launcher won’t offer enough customization options for all users, but it’ll be just right for some. After all, all some people need is a list of apps.

Dashboard is an overlay that takes a different approach than the other apps on this list. It obviously can’t replace your home screen, but you might never need to use another launcher again because you can open one app without closing the other.

Basically, you hold down the home button and the dashboard appears over what you’re looking at. This allows you to browse your apps without stopping playback. Your recent apps are at the top, and at the bottom you’ll see a grid of apps that you can rearrange as you see fit.

There’s also quick access to your HDMI ports and other inputs, your TV’s display settings, and a button to launch your TV’s screensaver. Finally, and more interestingly, you can see the IP address for your device, which is useful when troubleshooting network issues.

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If you liked the retro look of Android TV, this is for you. Basic TV Launcher is exactly what its name suggests, offering just a bunch of apps with a search bar at the top.

There’s not much else really – you can mark specific apps as favorites and access the system settings via a dedicated button. But that’s about it. The real appeal here is nostalgia and a user interface designed with the utmost simplicity.

This makes Kodi a pretty good unconventional launcher, especially if you already use it to watch TV shows and movies that you have stored locally on a hard drive, for example.

It helps that Kodi is also highly customizable. For example, there’s no end to the list of skins you can download and play around with, and you can obsessively tweak everything about how the application works – color scheme, which features are shown and which aren’t, and even the user interface sounds.





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