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Smart TVs & Apps: 17 Important Answers (for Beginners!)

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Apps are what make a TV smart.

They show you your favorite TV shows, to keeping you abreast of the weather and other current events in real-time.

Smart TVs can do other things, like synchronize with your smart home system.

Here are some things to know about your TV apps:

How do Smart TV Apps Work?

Smart TV apps work like any other software you install on your smartphone or computer.

When opened, it lets you execute commands through its interface, which then gives a corresponding response.

You should note that apps on smart TVs are not as powerful as their counterparts in your computers or even smartphones and tablets.

Do all Smart TVs Have the Same Apps?

Out of the box, smart TVs do not have the same apps.

A smart TV with the Roku platform is different from a smart TV that uses the Android TV platform.

Popular apps like Netflix and YouTube are made available across all these platforms for easy sales.

So if you are looking to buy a smart TV based on popular apps, chances are you have many options available in the market.

Which Smart TV has the Best Apps?

If you are looking for a smart TV that’s ready out of the box to handle your streaming needs, you should check the LG CX OLED smart TV.

This smart TV already features a 4K resolution and good quality speakers. So if you don’t want to spend on a soundbar, you should consider the LG CX OLED.

The remote control of this smart TV takes in voice command, aside from having hotkeys or shortcuts to popular streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Also, the CX has a wide selection of apps available for you to download.

This TV also features HDR and lets you use it on popular apps like Netflix and YouTube, and not just on the movies you can watch through its USB drive.

Another smart TV worth mentioning is a Sony model, which uses the Android TV platform.

A lot of app developers focus on Android TV’s environment.

Since it is free to use and modify, developers opt to create apps compatible with the most used smart TV system.

What are the Most Popular Apps for Smart TVs?

The most used apps on smart TVs are streaming services that let you watch movies, series, and other videos that bridge you to a vast well of knowledge and entertainment.

These apps include YouTube, being the second largest search engine on the Internet.

YouTube plays host to billions of videos and content creators around the world with different niches.

There are news outfits that use YouTube to broadcast the news. You can find content creators or video bloggers in their respective expertise that can discuss topics you want answers to.

There’s also Netflix, which lets you watch movies, documentaries, and series. While it is a paid monthly service, Netflix has one of the widest selections of content.

Which Free Apps Are the Best?

You might be overwhelmed with the app selection on your smart TV.

But the sheer volume of apps available and you may fancy will not fit in your TV’s limited storage space.

So if you need to narrow down, here are recommended apps for you that are free to download and need no monthly subscription to use:

1. YouTube

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world.

As the second largest search engine, YouTube is a repository for all kinds of information.

You can get updated on current events, whether through curated news or live broadcast of bigger news outfits, as well as become educated in your hobbies with plenty of professionals and masters of their craft that post videos online.

YouTube also serves as a host to many entertainment videos. Comedians, musicians, and other artists have taken on YouTube to host their content and establish a stronger online following.

Even personalities in different fields, such as business, sports, science, and history, among others, have taken on this media platform to become stronger influencers in their respective industries.

That is how vast YouTube is as a media curator.

The nice thing about it is it’s free. You don’t even need an account to use it!

But, to use certain functions, such as bookmarking or saving a video for viewing later, you need to sign up for a free account.

IFf you want to unlock more features, you can sign up for YouTube premium, which gives you an ad-free experience and offline viewing on your other devices.

  1. The subscription cost starts at 11.99 dollars after the free one-month trial.
  2. Pay an extra six (6) dollars on top of the basic plan, and you can add up to five family members to enjoy your YouTube premium subscription.

2. Spotify

Yes, it’s an audio app, but imagine the possibilities of having your playlist stream across your home during an event.

Take advantage of your TV’s speakers. If you had a soundbar, that would be perfect for sending songs across the house.

Let Spotify be the DJ at your next house party or have it on in the background while you cook and clean. Even more, you can turn on Disney songs and listen to your kids sing out the words while they do their chores.

Spotify is a free app with minimal adds every ten songs or so, but if you want an ad-free experience, subscribe to its premium version.

Spotify also requires an account for you to save and create your own playlists.

3. YouTube Kids

If you want to avoid inappropriate videos and ads, then you need to download YouTube Kids.

This version of YouTube caters to children. It features a curated selection of channels that are kids-oriented.

It has no ads, and all videos on YouTube kids are certified child-friendly, and you don’t need an account to use.

4. Facebook Watch

Facebook Watch is Facebook’s attempt at joining the Smart TV craze.

If you noticed that there is a “Watch” tab on your Facebook account, this is basically what the company extracted and made into an app for your smart TV.

Through the Watch app, you can watch Facebook Live videos and other suggested videos based on your interests.

This app is free to install and does not need you to log in to use, but if you want to watch your bookmarked videos, you need to sync your account with the app.

Note: only one account can be logged in at a time, so you cannot have many users at once like you would through Netflix.

5. Plex

Plex is a video streaming app that lets you watch movies from your collection, even when not connected to your TV.

If you have accumulated videos from your digital purchases, you can put them in a single storage device that you connect to your local network at home.

As long as your smart TV and external storage are connected to the same network, you will be able to access watch them without any issues.

Plex is a free app, but if you want to unlock more features, you can subscribe to their premium service, which includes the ability to watch offline on your mobile device.

A Plex Premium subscription starts at 4.99 dollars, with an option for a lifetime membership at 119.99 dollars.

6. Accuweather

Accuweather is a great way to stay updated with the weather forecast.

With the app, you need to set your location, so you can get the forecast in your area, and Accuweather gives you a forecast for a few days.

If you want a more in-depth forecast, including a longer one, you can subscribe to their premium service, which starts at $8.00 a month.

7. Skype

Did you know that a lot of smart TVs today have cameras?

Installing Skype turns your smart TV into the ultimate video conferencing machine.

Use these built-in cameras or compatible third-party cameras during your next family event, so those who can’t make it won’t miss out on the fun, even if they are thousands of miles away.

Note that these cameras may be used to spy on you. Turn off or detach these cameras when not in use.

To learn more about smart TVs and cameras, check out our article Where Are The Cameras & Mics Of Smart TVs Hidden?

8. Daily Workouts

While there are many resources available on exercising, Daily Workouts provide you with exercise guides to help you get fit.

This app stands out because it is designed specifically for TV viewing, and it is free!

No need to squint into your phone, because your smart TV will be your new exercise partner.

9. Kitchen Stories

Kitchen Stories is a recipe app, designed for the home chef who keeps a TV close when cooking.

This app features many recipes for you to try. It has an interface adapted to smart TVs, so you get the best experience when trying the dishes featured in the app.

How do I Install Apps on my Smart TV?

There are two ways to install apps on your smart TV:

The first is to search for these apps using your smart TV’s app store.

Once you find the app, click install and wait for it to finish downloading and installing the app.

The second way to install apps is by sideloading it through smart TV’s USB port.

The process of sideloading apps depends on smart TV.

Are Smart TV Apps the Same as Smartphones?

No, but they are not that different from each other.

Let’s take the YouTube app on a smart TV versus the one on your smartphone.

On your smartphone, you can read and leave a comment, and interact during live chats through your smartphone’s keyboard.

You have the option to participate and be part of the online community.

But on your smart TV, all those are not included when you use YouTube on your TV.

You are restricted from watching videos and saving them for viewing later – unless you log in to your account – and you also end up with more ads if you don’t have a paid subscription.

Can you Install Third-Party Apps on a Smart TV?

You can sideload third-party apps on your smart TV.

Note that you need to check if the app is compatible with your smart TV platform before attempting this.

You might end up destroying your TV’s firmware if you do not check the app’s compatibility, so make sure you aren’t trying to download something incompatible.

Remember that this may also void your smart TV’s warranty, so exert extra caution in verifying.

How do I Search for New Apps?

You can check your smart TV’s app store for new apps.

If you know what app to look for, type it in the search button.

If you want to try something new, the app store curates apps by categories so you can see what apps the stores suggest based on your interests.

Can you Install Video Game Apps on a Smart TV?

Yes, but the games you can play are limited to what your smart TV’s app store has available.

Usually, these are very simple games that can be played with your remote control or touchscreen – if you have a touchscreen TV.

How do you Delete Apps on a Smart TV?

To delete an app, open the application menu in your smart TV’s settings.

Scroll down and look for Manage Applications. A list of all installed applications installed will appear.

Select the app you want to delete, click it and go to uninstall.

You do the same process in the event you want to clear the cache of the app, which takes up more space on your smart TV.

What are Verified Apps?

Verified apps are a sign that an app has undergone a security check for security issues. It assures users that there are no hidden and malicious contents.

Each smart TV platform has their respective versions of verification:

  1. For Sony, their Android TVs have the Verified by Play Protect as their quality seal.
  2. Samsung’s Tizen platform requires all apps uploaded onto the TizenStore to be verified for security.
  3. LG’s WebOS has a strict app installation process and blocks any unauthorized app. You cannot sideload any app, which is an added layer of protection for your smart TV.
  4. Vizio takes a different approach for its smart TV security.

Most of the apps you access on their smart TVs are not installed but are shortcuts to a cloud-based app.

Since it’s cloud-based, the individual developers handle their security and updates.

This lessens the load on a smart TV’s memory, making it perform smoother.

So for an app to work on Vizio, it must meet the platform’s requirements to be compatible.

How do I Know if an App is Verified?

For smart TVs using Android TV (e.g., Sony), you will find a “Verified by Play Protect” on the landing page of the app in the Google Play Store.

If it has “Verified by Play Protect,” it means this app passed the standards of Google Play.

For Samsung, LG, and Vizio smart TVs, all their apps are considered verified, before they are published on their respective app stores.

Why are the Apps on my Smart TV Not Showing?

Check your Internet connection, and if your smart TV is connected to the Internet.

Often, the main interface of smart TVs does not load if there is any issue with the Internet connection.

If your Internet connection is okay, you can restart your smart TV and router.

Should the problem persist, you may have to factory-reset your TV.

Can I Update the Apps on my Smart TV?

You can opt to set your smart TV to automatically install updates of your apps, but it might be better to set your smart TV not to update your apps automatically, and only notify you of any updates.

That way, you can read up on these updates and how they perform with other users.

Also, having an app suddenly update when you are excited to watch a program can be a bummer.

It would be good to note that Vizio uses cloud-based apps, which are updated automatically by the developer.

Since it is cloud-based, all the system updates will be installed remotely without having to use your TV’s resources.

Can Hackers Control Apps?

Apps are one of the gateways hackers use to access your smart TV.

That is why it is highly discouraged to install third-party apps or bypassing your smart TV’s security when installing apps not designed for it.

These apps you may encounter might have been altered to hack and get all your data linked to your smart TV.

That is why LG blocks apps not listed in its app store, as a safety precaution.

For more information on smart TVs and hacking, check out our article Smart TVs And Hacking: 10 Answers To Help You Stay Safe!

How do I Know if an App is Safe for Installing?

As listed earlier, apps that are verified by the manufacturer are, for the most part, safe.

You will want to only download trusted apps that you have used before or that are recommended by the manufacturer.

If you want to try something you’ve never heard of, check online for reviews and comments about the app and how it functions, and whether or not it is safe.

Sources:

So you bought a smart TV. Now you need these apps.

Vizio’s new TVs don’t do apps the way you’d expect

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