Want to build a Raspberry Pi-based media center but find that the basic Kodi installation lacks features? Don’t worry, there’s a proven alternative: Android TV!

Here’s how to install Android TV and enjoy the full benefits of any popular Android-powered streaming app on your Raspberry Pi.

Android in a box

This is a relatively simple project that requires you to:

  1. Install Special Android ROM on Raspberry Pi
  2. Install certain Android TV software
  3. Start watching TV

It really is that simple. If you know how to install an operating system on a Raspberry Pi you shouldn’t have any problems.

Before you start, make sure you have:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 (not currently supported by Pi 3 B+ or Pi 4)
  • Good quality microSD kart
  • Reliable Raspberry Pi Power Supply
  • USB keyboard and mouse (or combination remote)
  • flash drive
  • HDMI cable
  • Ethernet cable (optional)

You will also need the following software downloads:

  • LineageOS 15.1 (Android 8.1) for Raspberry Pi 3
  • Open the GApps Pico package from opengapps.org
  • Etcher SD card for writing software

Ready to start? Went.

Step 1: Unpack and Install Android

Installing LineageOS on your Raspberry Pi gives you the benefit of the Android operating system. This means potentially better support for media programs like YouTube and Kodi. However, with the right Google apps installed, your Android Raspberry Pi will be a great Android TV.

This is possible with different versions of Android for Raspberry Pi (one of which we covered earlier), but for best results, use the LineageOS version listed above. Before proceeding, make sure the ZIP file is unzipped.

Install Android on Raspberry Pi with Etcher

To install, first insert your Raspberry Pi microSD card into your PC card reader and launch Etcher.

Here click » Select Image» and navigate to the unzipped image file. Select this, then make sure your SD card is selected under » Select Disk » . When you are satisfied, click flash, to start burning the Android disk image.

Install Android on Raspberry Pi with Etcher

Wait for the recording to finish — Etcher will tell you when the process is complete — then remove the SD card. Insert it into your Raspberry Pi, then boot up.

On first launch for Android, it may take some time to load. Once launched, if you have a keyboard and mouse, set up Wi-Fi. If not, connect your Raspberry Pi to the network using an Ethernet cable connected to your router.

Once installed and booted successfully, LineageOS will require basic setup. It will be the usual things: specify the country, time zone, etc.

Step 2Prepare Android TV for Google Apps

Your Raspberry Pi is now running Android. This is an AOSP based version, which means no Google apps are installed. Instead, you will need to do it manually.

You should have already downloaded the GApps package on your computer. Visit opengapps.org and select:

  • HAND
  • 8.1
  • Pico

(It’s tempting to select the Android TV option over Pico — don’t. It’s just a larger file and doesn’t really do anything other than create problems later on.)

Select Download then once the GApps file is saved on your PC, copy it to your USB flash drive. Carefully remove this and paste it into your Raspberry Pi.

Then in LineageOS, open the app drawer and select » Settings» > «System» > «About tablet» . Here scroll down to build numbers and click on it a few times. Eventually, this will add a developer options menu to the previous screen.

Press back until you exit the app» Settings» then open it again and select » System»> » Options developer» . Select root access and select » Applications and ADB» by pressing » OK» when a warning is displayed.

Next, scroll down to Local Terminal and enable the app. This gives you local shell access, which means you can enter commands from the keyboard.

Return to the application drawer where you will find the Terminal application. Click to open and allow applications to access your device.

Next, enter the superuser command:

su 

A Privacy Guard warning window will appear. Install Remember my choice checkbox (to get permission for what you are going to do in the future) and then allow .

Next enter the command

 rpi3-recovery.sh 

This downloads the recovery script. Enter the reboot command to run it.

 reboot 

The Raspberry Pi will boot into the TWRP recovery console. Select here install, then select Storage, to select your USB flash drive.

Select a USB device to install GApps

Select the GApps file, then Install Zip and on the next screen install checkbox » Reboot after installation» then swipe to confirm Flash .

Google Apps Flash Bundle on Raspberry Pi

When the device restarts, you will be able to access the Play Store.

Step 3Customize the Android TV Interface

For now, you’ll notice that the LineageOS interface on your Raspberry Pi mostly looks like Android, not Android TV. To change this, you will need a launcher.

Several are available; we used ATV Launcher Free ad launcher from play store. Just sign in with your regular Google account, search for it and install it. (Please note that your initial login to the Play Store will take a few minutes to complete the verification process.)

Android TV Launcher runs on Raspberry Pi

With a sorted interface, you will need to add some useful multimedia applications. Things like YouTube, Plex, Amazon Prime Video, Kodi, and more, all available on Google Play. Just install them as usual to benefit from existing subscriptions.

Note: The performance of these applications has been mixed at best. For best results, stick with YouTube. If you are looking for other applications, find the best versions to install.

Step 4Control Android TV on Raspberry Pi

When you’re done, you’ll probably want to disable your mouse and keyboard in favor of something lighter. There are several remote control options available for the Raspberry Pi that should work with Android TV.

One option is the mini wireless keyboard/remote control, which is a combo device with customizable LED backlighting.

Alternatively, you may prefer the iPazzPort Wireless Mini Keyboard with Touchpad. This combines the keyboard and touchpad along with the D-pad and media controllers in one device.

Both devices are wireless and come with a special Wi-Fi dongle specifically designed for remote control.

Enjoy your Android TV media on Raspberry Pi!

By now, you should have a Raspberry Pi 3 or later that allows you to upload videos and music using LineageOS with the Android TV UI. Either way, you have an Android TV Box!

Admittedly, you may experience performance issues, so make sure your microSD card is good. Also make sure you are using an approved Raspberry Pi power supply. This ensures that the Pi gets the power it needs without the risk of undervoltage and damage to the microSD card.

Enjoyed the feel of Android TV but not getting the best results? Check out our list of the best Android TVs

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