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TV & streaming

7 must-know Android TV tips and tricks to try right now

Today’s televisions offer viewers an experience that only a few decades ago would have been considered science fiction. You can tailor your channel listings, control the unit with your voice, watch your favorites any time and even skip commercials.

And smart TVs are getting smarter, thinner, lighter and more affordable than ever before. That’s why it isn’t so bad practicing social distancing. We’re all taking the time to catch up on our favorite shows! But be warned: That smart TV may be keeping tabs on you. Tap or click here to opt-out of sharing settings.

The only downside is you have to figure out the features and optimize the settings, which can be a challenge. If you have a new Android TV and haven’t explored all of its capabilities, it’s time to learn a few tricks to transform your TV-watching experience.

1. Adjust the Quick Settings

Save the settings you use most to the Quick Settings panel. This saves you from navigating through menus and configuration screens. Choose quick links to power off or restart your remote, display the on-screen keyboard and so much more.

Open Settings and select Device Preferences >> System >> Customize Quick Settings.

To view the panel and access the features you saved, click the Settings icon.

2. Personalize the home screen

The home screen on an Android TV displays installed apps in rows. Below your favorites apps in the top section is the Play Next or Watch Next row with apps that recommend content you might enjoy, like the next episode of a series you recently watched.

To customize these areas, open Settings, and tap Device Preferences >> Home screen. From here, you can change the order in which apps appear. You can further choose which apps show up in the Watch Next section and disable or enable previews.

3. Use your smartphone as a remote

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While a remote is handy for changing the channel and adjusting the volume of your TV, it falls short of quickly completing tasks like typing out passwords or searches. With your Android TV and its companion app on either your Android or iOS phone, you can type text, advance through menus and launch Google Assistant.

Once you download the app to your smartphone, make sure your phone and Android TV are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Open the Android TV Remote Control app and tap the name of your TV. When a PIN appears on your TV screen, enter the digits on your phone and tap Pair.

4. Change the screen saver

Similar to your computer, your Android TV has a screen saver option for when your television is inactive. You can select gradient backgrounds or the Chromecast background, which displays a variety of images including landscapes and nature themes.

To choose your screen saver and adjust how much time your TV should wait before it starts the feature, open Settings >> Screen saver >> Backdrop.

To adjust your screen saver from your phone, open the Google Home app on your Android or iOS device and select your Android TV. Tap Settings >> Ambient mode and select from one of the following:

  • Google Photos – Albums from your Google Photos account.
  • Art gallery – Images and artwork curated by Google.
  • Experimental – Images from new sources and try new features.

5. Use your Android TV as a Chromecast

Chromecast (Google Cast) is built into your newer Android TV, so there’s no need for a dongle to cast audio and video from apps on your mobile device or computer to your television. Chromecast supported apps include:

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Google Photos
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • Chrome browser

Both your Android TV and device must be connected to the same network and have the latest OS updates. To begin casting your photos and videos, launch a Chromecast-enabled app on your smartphone, computer or tablet and select the Chromecast icon.

When you see your Android TV model, click it to cast your content. Tap or click here for more on-screen mirroring tips.

6. Use your voice

If you don’t feel like manually looking for content, just stand near your Android TV and say, “OK Google” to access the Google Assistant, or press the microphone icon on the TV’s home screen.

To ensure voice activation is enabled, go into Settings and select Device Preferences >> Google Assistant. Enable “Ok Google” detection. If your model does not have this setting, you can launch the Google Assistant with the button on your remote control.

7. Take advantage of the Google Assistant

Google Assistant can help you with tons of tasks. Ask for the latest sports scores, the weather forecast, create calendar events or inquire about your schedule. Use the AI to browse content or search by the name of an actor, show or movie title, or by genre.

You can also control your smart home devices with your Android TV. You will need to have all smart devices in the Google Home app and you need to be signed into the same Google account on both your smartphone and TV.

Now, when you’re near your TV or when you use the Google Assistant button on your remote, you can tell your smart light bulbs to turn on or off, lower the music on your smart speakers and more. Tap or click to see what else you can do with Google Assistant.

We’ve given you plenty of ways to customize and optimize your Android TV. Now, your experience will be a lot simpler. All that’s left to do now is pick a movie and pop some corn!

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