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Apps Every Smart TV Must Have Downloaded

We've all been there, lounging on the couch, remote in hand, cruising through our smart TVs' endless sea of apps. It's akin to staring into the fridge, wondering what to munch on - except it's our screen-time appetite we're looking to satiate. With so many options, deciding which apps deserve a spot on our home screen can be overwhelming.
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Before we dive into channel surfing, let’s equip our smart TVs with the essential apps that are just too good to pass up. Whether it’s kicking back with a blockbuster movie, binge-watching a new series, catching up on the news, or even just streaming some tunes, we’re here to guide you through the must-have apps that will enhance our viewing experience and bring out the best in our home entertainment systems.

Essential streaming apps

The thrill of on-demand video and live TV is hard to beat when setting up our smart TV. We’ll take you through the must-have apps that will take our home entertainment to the next level.

On-demand video services

For binge-worthy TV shows, hit movies, and exclusive originals, on-demand video services are non-negotiable for our smart TV. Apps like Netflix, with its extensive library of content, and Amazon Prime Video, offering a mix of classics and Amazon Originals, are perfect starters for our collection. Let’s not forget Hulu, which provides a wealth of TV episodes available the day after they air.

Renowned for its diverse selection of documentaries, latest movie releases, and a user-friendly interface.

Stranger Things – image credit: IMDb

Reasons to watch:

  • “Stranger Things”
  • “The Irishman”
  • “The Crown”

Offers a great mix of live TV, new TV shows, and movies. It’s particularly strong for those who enjoy following current TV seasons.

Reasons to watch:

  • “The Handmaid’s Tale”
  • “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
  • “Palm Springs”

Known for its original content, classic movies, and extensive TV show library.

Related read: How to stream with a VPN with a FireStick

The Boys – image credit: IMDb

Reasons to watch:

  • “The Boys”
  • “Sound of Metal”
  • “Bosch”

The go-to app for families, offering a vast library of Disney classics, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content.

Reasons to watch:

  • “The Mandalorian”
  • “Frozen II”
  • “WandaVision”

Offers a wide range of high-quality HBO content, new movie premieres, and a vast selection of TV shows from various networks.

Succession – image credit: IMDb

Reasons to watch:

  • “Succession”
  • “Dune”
  • “The Sopranos”

Known for its original series and films produced by Apple, featuring high production values and star-studded casts.

Reasons to watch:

  • “Ted Lasso”
  • “Greyhound”
  • “The Morning Show”

Live TV and sports streaming

To keep up with live events and sports, we’ve got to have the right apps. Pluto TV is an excellent option for free live TV with various content available. For sports enthusiasts, subscribing to ESPN provides a front-row seat to various sports content. Our smart TV isn’t brilliant without these live-streaming powerhouses.

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Pluto TV is a fantastic, free option that offers a wide variety of content, including news, sports, movies, and more, across numerous channels without a subscription fee.

Reasons to watch:

  • A diverse selection of live channels including news, sports, and entertainment.
  • On-demand movies and TV shows available for free.
  • Easy navigation with a guide that makes finding live content a breeze.

ESPN is the ultimate destination for sports fans. Subscribing gives you access to various live sports, commentary, and original programming.

Reasons to watch:

  • Live streaming of major sports events including football, basketball, baseball, and more.
  • Exclusive access to original content such as “30 for 30” documentaries.
  • In-depth analysis and commentary from leading sports experts.

Fox Sports app is your ticket to live streaming your favorite sports events, from NFL games and MLB matches to NASCAR races and soccer matches.

Reasons to watch:

  • Live streams of major sports events broadcasted by Fox.
  • Instant access to scores, stats, and highlights.
  • Exclusive shows and analysis from sports personalities.

With the NBC Sports app, you can catch live events including the NFL Sunday Night Football, NHL games, the PGA Tour, and much more, all in one place.

Reasons to watch:

  • Stream live sporting events that air on NBC, NBCSN, and Golf Channel.
  • Full event replays and an extensive library of on-demand video.
  • Exclusive coverage of some of the biggest events in sports.

DAZN is a must-have for combat sports enthusiasts, offering live boxing, MMA, and more. It’s a subscription service dedicated to sports streaming, focusing on fighting sports.

Reasons to watch:

  • Exclusive live fights and original programming in boxing and MMA.
  • Access to fight highlights, news, and documentaries.
  • A robust on-demand library of past fights.

Web browsers

When setting up our smart TV, we often focus on entertainment apps, but utility apps bring a level of convenience that shouldn’t be overlooked. These applications streamline our experience by adding functionality that transforms our TV into a more versatile device.

Installing a web browser makes browsing the internet directly from our smart TV possible. With these apps, we can access our favorite websites, stay updated with the latest news, or even stream videos from platforms that may not have a dedicated app. For a smooth browsing experience on our large screen, utility apps like MX Player offer an optimized interface and support for various codecs.

Google Chrome is a popular choice for smart TV users, offering fast browsing speeds, a user-friendly interface, and seamless synchronization with your Google account.

Reasons to use:

  • Sync bookmarks, history, and passwords across devices with your Google account.
  • Voice search capability makes finding content easy and hands-free.
  • Extensive library of extensions and themes for a personalized browsing experience.

Mozilla Firefox is known for its emphasis on privacy and customization. It’s a great option for smart TV users who prioritize security and personalization.

Reasons to use:

  • Strong privacy controls to keep your browsing data secure.
  • Customizable home screen for quick access to your favorite sites.
  • Support for a wide range of video formats and streaming services.

Samsung Internet Browser

Available on Samsung smart TVs, Samsung Internet Browser is optimized for large screens and designed to provide a comfortable browsing experience from your couch.

Reasons to use:

  • Integrated video player supports 360-degree videos for an immersive experience.
  • High contrast mode and adjustable font sizes make reading more accessible.
  • Built-in ad blocker to streamline your browsing experience.

Puffin TV Browser is specifically designed for TVs, featuring an intuitive interface that makes navigating websites with a remote control a breeze.

Reasons to use:

  • Fast loading speeds thanks to cloud processing.
  • Optimized navigation for TV remote controls.
  • Access to full web pages rather than mobile sites, providing a desktop-like browsing experience.

Opera offers a browser version tailored for smart TV viewing. This version combines Opera’s familiar features with optimizations for the big screen.

Reasons to use:

  • Opera Turbo mode compresses data for faster browsing.
  • Personal news feed directly on your TV.
  • Easy bookmarking and keyboard support for efficient search and navigation.

Cloud storage services

Integrating cloud storage services on our smart TV is a smart move for easy access to our files and media. Utility apps on smart TVs, as highlighted by robots.net, enable us to manage and share content across devices without transferring them via physical storage drives. Cloud services not only make our data readily accessible but also simplify managing our digital library directly from the TV.

Google Drive is a widely used cloud storage service that allows you to access your files from any device, including your smart TV. It’s perfect for streaming video files or sharing photos with friends and family on a larger display.

Reasons to use:

  • Seamless integration with Google Photos and other Google services.
  • Ability to share content directly from your TV with others.
  • Ample free storage, with more available for a monthly fee.

Dropbox is another popular cloud storage solution known for its simplicity and reliability. It lets you easily access your stored photos, documents, and videos, making it a breeze to enjoy your media on your smart TV.

Reasons to use:

  • Easy-to-navigate interface for straightforward access to your files.
  • Automatic backup features ensure your data is always safe.
  • Collaborative tools let you share folders and files with ease.

Microsoft OneDrive integrates closely with Windows and Xbox ecosystems, making it an excellent choice for those already invested in Microsoft’s services. It’s ideal for streaming your saved videos or showcasing presentations and documents on your smart TV.

Reasons to use:

  • Deep integration with Microsoft Office apps allows for editing documents from your TV.
  • Automatic photo and video backup from your mobile devices.
  • Access files and media stored on your OneDrive directly from your Xbox, if you have one.

Amazon Drive offers secure cloud storage, photo backup, and file sharing. Prime members benefit from unlimited photo storage, making it a great option for displaying your photography on your smart TV.

Reasons to use:

  • Unlimited photo storage for Amazon Prime members.
  • Easy access to your Amazon Drive files through Fire TV devices.
  • Simple sharing and downloading options for sharing content with family and friends.

For those heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, iCloud provides seamless access to your photos, videos, and other data across all your devices, including Apple TV.

Reasons to use:

  • Integration with Apple Photos and iTunes for a unified media experience.
  • Family Sharing allows up to six members to share purchases and storage plans.
  • Data encryption in transit and at rest ensures your privacy is protected.

Music and radio apps

When we think about smart TVs, we often think of streaming shows and movies. However, there’s a sprawling world of apps designed to enhance our TVs beyond traditional streaming. Let’s explore some must-have apps for music enthusiasts and gamers alike. We all love a good soundtrack to our day, and the music never has to stop with smart TVs. Apps like Spotify and Pandora transform our living room into a concert hall, offering millions of tracks and personalized playlists. Whether hosting a party or just unwinding after work, having these apps on our smart TV means easy access to tunes anytime.

The leader in streaming music, Spotify offers personalized playlists, millions of tracks, and the ability to create and share your own playlists. Perfect for any mood or occasion.

Reasons to listen:

  • Discover Weekly: A personalized playlist that introduces new music tailored to your tastes every week.
  • Spotify Originals: Exclusive podcasts and artist-hosted radio shows you can’t find anywhere else.
  • High-quality streaming options for audiophiles.

Pandora stands out with its unique music discovery engine that creates custom stations based on your likes and dislikes. It’s like having a personal DJ that knows exactly what you want to hear.

Reasons to listen:

  • Personalized radio stations based on artists or songs.
  • The Thumbprint Radio: A station that’s uniquely yours, made up of tracks you’ve thumbed up across all your stations.
  • Easy to use interface with simple thumbs up or down to tailor your station.

With Apple Music, you get access to over 70 million songs, exclusive releases, and curated playlists. Plus, it integrates seamlessly with your existing Apple ecosystem.

Reasons to listen:

  • Exclusive early releases from top artists.
  • Beats 1 Radio: Enjoy a global live stream 24/7 hosted by the world’s top DJs.
  • Lyrics view: Sing along to your favorite songs with real-time lyrics.

YouTube Music takes the vast universe of music videos, official albums, covers, remixes, and live performances on YouTube and puts it in an app designed for music streaming.

Reasons to listen:

  • Access to a nearly endless catalog of music videos.
  • Discover live performances, covers, and remixes you can’t find on other platforms.
  • Personalized playlists and recommendations based on your YouTube activity.

TuneIn Radio brings a global selection of live radio stations, podcasts, and music streams in one app, offering news, sports, music, and talk radio from around the world.

Reasons to listen:

  • Live sports, news, music, and talk radio from around the globe.
  • Access to over 100,000 radio stations and 4 million podcasts.
  • Stream your favorite local radio stations with ease.

Gaming platforms

Gaming on smart TVs has come a long way, allowing us to enjoy a casual gaming session without needing a console. Platforms like Steam let us stream games directly from our PC to the TV. Meanwhile, apps like GeForce Now enable cloud gaming, offering high-end gaming experiences without needing powerful hardware.

Steam Link lets you stream your favorite games from your PC to your smart TV, ensuring you can enjoy your Steam library in the comfort of your living room.

Reasons to use:

  • Play your existing Steam library on a bigger screen without the need for additional hardware.
  • Supports various controllers, including Steam Controllers, Xbox, and PlayStation controllers.
  • Offers high-quality streaming with customizable settings to match your network conditions.

GeForce Now brings cloud gaming to your smart TV, allowing you to play high-end PC games without the need for a gaming PC.

Reasons to use:

  • Access to a vast library of PC games, including new releases and classic titles.
  • Stream games at up to 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second.
  • Compatible with a wide range of game controllers and keyboards/mice.

Google Stadia is a cloud gaming service that streams video games up to 4K resolution directly to your smart TV, with no additional hardware required except for a Stadia controller.

Reasons to use:

  • Play games instantly with no downloads, updates, or installations required.
  • Offers a selection of free games with a Stadia Pro subscription, along with exclusive discounts.
  • Seamless integration with YouTube for live streaming and joining games from content creators.

Available through the Apple TV app on smart TVs, Apple Arcade offers a collection of premium games for a single monthly subscription, with no ads or in-app purchases.

Reasons to use:

  • A curated selection of high-quality games across various genres, with new games added regularly.
  • Family sharing for up to six family members.
  • Playable across all your Apple devices, allowing you to pick up where you left off on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Amazon Luna is a cloud gaming service that allows you to stream games to your smart TV, offering a variety of game channels with a growing library of games.

Reasons to use:

  • Channels dedicated to different publishers and genres, allowing you to choose what suits your gaming taste.
  • Offers the ability to play on two devices simultaneously with a single subscription.
  • Direct integration with Twitch, making it easy to watch or stream gameplay.

Frequently asked questions

When we look at enhancing our smart TV experience, we often have questions about the apps we should download, particularly those essential from day one. Here are some of the most common queries we’ve encountered.

What are the best movie streaming apps for smart TVs?

The entertainment world is at our fingertips, beginning with movie streaming apps. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu consistently rank as essential apps for enjoying a vast library of films and TV series.

What are the best free apps for smart TVs?

To make the most out of our smart TVs without spending extra, apps like YouTube, Pluto TV, and Tubi offer a variety of free content that ranges from user-generated videos to movies and live TV.

What are the best apps for adults for smart TVs?

For adults looking for mature content, streaming services like HBO Max and Showtime provide a roster of critically acclaimed shows, films, and documentaries, catering to a more adult audience.

How do I find the best apps for my specific brand of smart TV?

To find the best apps compatible with our smart TV, we can visit our TV brand’s dedicated app store, whether checking out Samsung’s smart hub or exploring the offerings on LG’s content store.

Can I add new apps to my smart TV post-purchase?

Yes, you can add new applications to our smart TV after purchase. Most smart TVs have an app store where we can browse, download, and install new apps as desired.

What pre-installed apps should I expect when setting up my new smart TV?

Upon setting up our new smart TV, we’ll typically find pre-installed apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or the TV brand’s streaming service to jumpstart our viewing experience.

Kelvin, our design whiz and audio tech aficionado, pens articles on audio, home technology, and hip-hop for Upbeat Geek. With a keen eye on the latest from soundbars to earbuds, Kelvin decodes the tech world for our readers. His love for travel, concerts, and a music-driven creative career underscores his expertise. Kelvin’s writing not only covers the intricacies of audio and home technology but also dives into the vibrant world of hip-hop.

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