Fire TV and its smaller streaming cousin the Fire Stick are both great ways to watch movies and TV shows. The hardware is inexpensive, the quality is top notch, and you’ll have access to a huge variety of videos from Amazon’s own rental and purchasing marketplace. You can even sideload apps on Fire TV to access a ton of free Android content!
There are two catches to using Fire TV over another TV-based device, however: no YouTube, and no Google Play. There’s a quick workaround to install YouTube on Fire Stick, but how about Google’s apps and video store? Let’s take a look!
Always Use a VPN with Fire TV
It doesn’t matter if you’re streaming movies from Amazon or installing Kodi on your Fire Stick, it’s important to keep a good VPN actively running in the background at all times. VPNs encrypt the data leaving your device to keep traffic both anonymous and secure. Without it, it’s easy for third parties to spy on your activity. ISPs throttle your connection, government agencies can collect data on your location and interests, and hackers can monitor your every activity. Add a VPN to the picture, though, and you’re safe and secure no matter what.
A lot of research goes into choosing the right VPN for Fire TV. You need the perfect balance of speed and security, and you need software that runs on Fire Stick without causing slowdown. Below we’ve chosen some of the best VPNs on the market that work best on Fire TV. Each one is fast, safe, and easy to use, perfect for streaming movies from your Fire device.
IPVanish – Best VPN for Fire TV
IPVanish puts just the right features in its VPN to give Fire TV users the perfect online experience. The company combines lightning fast speeds with incredibly strong privacy features to give you high quality downloads without sacrificing security. IPVanish does this through a network of over 950 servers in 60 different countries, each of which is fast and lag-free. You’ll be able to find a good connection anywhere in the world with IPVanish, ensuring your Fire Stick can always stream HD movies and TV shows. IPVanish even has a native app for Fire TV, so you can install it directly from the appstore with no need for sideloading.
IPVanish bundles DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch on all custom versions of its software to keep data secure. Information is protected by 256-bit AES encryption, and a zero-logging policy on traffic prevents data from going to long term storage. These features along with ease of use and incredible speeds make IPVanish one of the best VPNs for Fire TV.
Find out more about IPVanish’s speed and security features in our IPVanish review.
IPVanish offers a 7-day money back guarantee which means you have a week to test it risk-free. Please note that Addictive Tips readers can save a massive 60% here on the IPVanish annual plan, taking the monthly price down to only $4.87/mo.
Google Play on Fire Stick – Is it Possible?
It’s no secret that Fire TV supports most Android apps by default. There are some exceptions to this running philosophy, however. We tried sideloading Google Play using a variety of methods to see what would happen.
APKs on Fire TV
APK files are Android packages that work like a single-file resource for an entire app. All the software you use on an Android device utilizes apks, even things like YouTube or Google Play. Fire TV and Fire Stick count as Android devices as far as this is concerned, so in order to add sideloaded content, we’ll need to get our hands on the Google Play apk.
Is it Safe to Sideload APKs?
The process of adding third party content to your Fire TV is perfectly safe, provided the APK comes from a place you trust. Amazon has made it easy to enable sideloading without the need for rooting or jailbreaking, so there’s no risk to your hardware or software. You can even uninstall sideloaded apps using the Fire TV’s built-in applications manager.
Sideloading the APK
There are several reliable methods for sideloading apps onto Fire TV. We found an APK file for Google Play’s marketplace and tried a few different installations to see what would happen. Unfortunately, installing just the Play Store app itself produces an error. The software needs access to Google Play services in order to function. According to the Fire TV error message, these services are not supported by the device.
Preliminary Verdict – Possible, but Not Always
After the initial test we decided to hunt down the necessary apk files to make Google Play work (see the guide below). After installing three additional dependency apps there was some measure of success. Google Play can run on some Fire TVs, albeit slowly and without displaying all the correct and compatible apps.
It’s important to note that newer and updated second generation Fire TV and Fire Stick devices are most likely incompatible with Google Play. The installation works best on older devices, but even then it isn’t 100% reliable or guaranteed.
How to Install Google Play on Fire TV
There are a lot of barriers to cross to get Google Play running on Fire TV. Even when you manage to locate and sideload the correct content, the app doesn’t run all that well on Fire devices, especially Fire Sticks. Nevertheless, the guide below will walk you through the entire process from beginning to end. Note that even if you complete the following steps, some users will still encounter errors or be unable to run Google Play successfully.
Allow Unknown Sources First
The Fire TV operating system has a default feature that disables external installations. You won’t be able to load anything outside of the built-in Amazon appstore unless you disable it first. Follow the steps below to enable unknown sources on your Fire Stick or Fire TV.
- Go to your Fire TV’s settings page located at the top of the home menu.
- Scroll right and choose Device
- Move down to Developer Options
- Set Apps from Unknown Sources to ON.
- Accept the warning message about installing external apps.
Step 1 – Choose a Sideloading Method
To get Google Play working on a Fire Stick, you’ll need to install at least four different APKs individually. Normally it doesn’t really matter which sideloading method you use to add external content, but due to the sheer volume of files we’ll be downloading and the nature by which they’re available, there’s only one sideloading method we wholeheartedly recommend: adbLink.
adbLink is a free program for Mac, Windows, and Linux that lets you manage files and install apps directly to your Fire TV from a laptop or desktop PC. As long as both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network you’ll have full access to everything on your Fire device. It’s a little frightening at first since there is some setup involved, but don’t worry, adbLink is one of the best sideloading methods available. We’ll cover the full installation steps below.
Step 2 – Assemble Your Files
Using adbLink means you’ll need to have the app apk files downloaded and ready to go before connecting. On your PC web browser, follow each of the links below to download the necessary content. For each one, simply scroll down a bit until you see the Download APK button. Click it and the download will begin.
- Google Account Manager
- Google Services Framework
- Google Play Services
- Google Play Store (Android TV)
Save all four of these files somewhere easy to access, such as your desktop.
Next it’s time to download adbLink. If you don’t already have it on your system, head to the official adbLink website, scroll down, and download the appropriate installation file for your operating system. Install it right away.
Step 3 – Setting Up adbLink
Now it’s time to get adbLink ready to interact with your Fire TV. Start by turning on your Fire device, then navigating to Settings > About – Network. On the right you’ll see some information about your connection to the internet, including device’s IP address. Write this down or memorize it.
On your PC that’s connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Fire TV, open adbLink. Click the New button next to the devices box and add your Fire TV. In the next window, type a unique description in the box, then enter the device’s IP address and save your changes.
Back in adbLink’s main screen, choose the Fire TV you just entered by clicking the “Select device” dropdown box in the center. Click Connect just beneath that. The connection will take a moment to resolve. Once it completes, you should see the device and status listed in the white boxes at the top of adbLink’s screen.
Step 4 – Install the APKs
Now we’re ready to install the necessary apk files. In adbLink, click the button marked Install APK. A file dialog will open. Navigate to wherever you saved the apks downloaded above, then choose all four. You can select and install them individually, but it’s more convenient just to set them all going and forget about it.
Once you add the files, adbLink will confirm that you want to install these apks. Click Yes, then the process will begin. You’ll see an item in the Running Jobs box at the top, along with a progress bar at the bottom of adbLink’s window.
It may take a few minutes for the installation to complete, as adbLink has to transfer a lot of data over to your Fire device. Once it completes, adbLink will notify you via a dialog window.
Step 5 – Launch Google Play
You’re now ready to start Google Play. Go to your Fire TV device and navigate to the Your Apps section. Scroll right and choose See All to visit the custom apps grid. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll see several different installed apks, some of which may have strange or generic icons. Ignore them and choose the one with the Google Play icon on the front.
When you try launching the app you may get a message asking you to update the service. Go ahead and do this if you like, otherwise you won’t be able to run the app at all.
Once this is complete, you’re ready to browse the Google Play store on your Fire TV. Keep in mind this process doesn’t work well with all Fire devices, especially newer models, and the apps you install from Google Play aren’t guaranteed to be compatible.
Getting Google Play to run on your Fire TV or Fire Stick is never a guarantee. The guide provided above will work for many people, but depending on a variety of factors, including operating system version and hardware, running Google Play can fail inexplicably. Make sure you follow the steps in order and read the entire guide to maximize your chances of gaining access right away. And if it doesn’t work out, you can always sideload apps individually.