Posted

in

,

Updated

YouTube with no ads on Google TV and Android TV devices (Chromecast, Fire TV Stick)

There is a completely ad-free alternative to the original YouTube app: SmartTube. This is a free and open source app with over 14,000 stars on GitHub that plays content from YouTube without the annoying advertising breaks at the beginning or during a longer video. You can find more information about the app, compatibility and FAQ here: https://github.com/yuliskov/SmartTube and https://smarttubeapp.github.io/

Our aim is to replace the functionalities of the original YouTube app on Google TV/Android TV as best as possible with SmartTube. The following describes how to install and set up the Android TV app “SmartTube” on your TV, Chromecast or Amazon FireTV stick with Google/Android TV. The procedure on a Chromecast with Google TV (4K) (Android TV operating system version 12) is shown here. As the app to be installed is not listed in the Play Store, you have to use a little workaround.

Notice:
This is a translation of the German article. Please note that especially menu names, button labels, names, screenshots etc. might not be translated (correctly). Feel free to let us know in the comments if you notice any errors.

Supported devices

Ad

There are televisions that have Google TV or Android TV built in directly. You also have the option of upgrading your TV with HDMI sticks or boxes. Here are two of the most popular providers, each in two variants 4K or HD: Chromecast with Google TV and the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Enable developer options

To allow apps other than the Google Play Store to install apps, we need to activate the developer options. After SmartTube has been installed, we can then deactivate it again for security reasons.

On the Android TV home screen, go all the way to the right to open the side menu and then the settings.

In the settings, go to System -> About -> scroll down to “Android TV operating system build” and click on this entry 7 times in a row. After a while you will see “You’re x taps away from beeing a developer” and finally “You are now a developer!”.

We can verify that the activation was successful by checking the settings menu, where the additional entry “Developer options” has now appeared.

Install downloader app “Downloader by AFTVnews”

On the Android TV home screen, search for “aftv” in the “Apps” section to find and install the app called “Downloader by AFTVnews”.

Download and install “SmartTube”

We download the app “SmartTube” with the help of the downloader app “Downloader by AFTVnews”. To do this, open it, authorize access to photos and media and confirm the welcome dialog.

Then enter “kutt.it/stn_beta” in the URL field and click on “Go”.

The app will now download the installation file.

The Android system then asks whether the downloader app is allowed to install other apps. We have already prepared this by activating the developer options and now only need to confirm by clicking on “Settings” and allowing access to the “Downloader” app.

You can then install the “SmartTube” app in the following dialog screen.

By clicking on “Done”, we return to the downloader app and can delete the downloaded APK installation file.

Open SmartTube

The “SmartTube beta” app can now be found on the Android TV home screen under “Apps” -> “View all”.

With a long click on the app, you can move the app shortcut to one of the front positions so that it is always at hand under “My apps”.

If you now open the SmartTube app, it appears in a similar layout to the YouTube app, admittedly not quite as attractive and convenient – but completely ad-free.

Settings in SmartTube

Open the SmartTube app.

Log in with your Youtube account

On the home screen of the app, click on the account icon at the top left and then on “Log in”.

Then enter the address displayed as shown on your TV on your smartphone and confirm access to your Google account by clicking “Allow”.

Your Google account, all subscribed channels, YouTube history, etc. will then be displayed in SmartTube on the TV. This means that everything is available as usual, just as if you were in the YouTube app.

Set up search by voice command via Chromecast remote control

In SmartTube, click on the magnifying glass icon at the top left and then on the microphone icon.

You then confirm the Android system’s authorization request by clicking on “When using the app”.

Voice search in SmartTube is then supported via the Chromecast remote control – as indicated by the activated green microphone symbol in the top right-hand corner.

This means that voice input also works as you are used to from the YouTube app.

Setup screen sharing/Screen Mirroring/Chromecast

In SmartTube, go to the menu item “Settings” and “Remote control” and activate the “Remote control” switch.

Then confirm the permission for the overlay display with “Confirm” and activate the “SmartTube beta” app in the Android menu that appears automatically.

Then follow the instructions on the TV screen and enter the TV code displayed in the YouTube app on your smartphone.

The original YouTube app on your smartphone is then connected to the SmartTube app on the TV, so streaming the screen also works as before.

Remap the YouTube button on the remote control

By pressing and holding the YouTube button on the Chromecast remote control, you can select the “favorite YouTube app” in Android TV, but no other app is available for selection, especially not the SmartTube app. You can work around this with a so-called “bridge app”, but to do so you have to uninstall the original YouTube app on your Chromecast.

We would like to present an alternative way to change the button mapping without deleting the original YouTube app. To do this, install an app called “Button Mapper: Remap your keys” on your Android TV in the regular way. Search for “button” in the “Apps” tab and install the app.

As the app can change the button assignment of the remote control, it requires special system authorization, which we activate in the Android TV settings menu: Open the system settings -> System -> Accessibility and activate the “Enable” switch for “Button Mapper”.

Then open the “Button Mapper” app and click on “Add buttons”.

Click on “Add buttons” again and in the following dialog box, press the button on the remote control that you want to “reprogram” – in this case, the YouTube button.

The corresponding key appears as a list entry, which you click on to change the key assignment.

First confirm the pop-up message with “No thanks” and then activate the “Customize” switch and click on the “Tap once” menu item.

Then, in the top drop-down field (“Actions”), select the “Applications” entry and choose “SmartTube beta” from the list.

From now on, pressing the YouTube button on your Chromecast remote will no longer open the original YouTube app, but instead our ad-free SmartTube app.

Deactivate developer options again

Last but not least, we tidy up a little and deactivate the developer options again for security reasons. In the settings under “Developer options”, we switch the “Enable developer options” switch to off. Once you leave the menu, the “Developer options” menu item disappears completely.

Conclusion

With this method, we have a completely ad-free app on the TV with the same functions and convenience of the original YouTube app. We only have to make slight compromises in terms of design and usability.

Cover image: Photo by Oscar Nord on Unsplash

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Consent Management Platform by Real Cookie Banner