Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Fire TV devices are among the best on the market. Not only can you stream music and TV shows through popular web services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, but you can also sideload most Android apps onto the device as well. However, there’s one “app” that you may be particularly interested in adding: the Google Play Store. You can install Google Play on a Fire TV Stick or Fire TV in several different ways.
We’ve done some research on how to effectively add the Google Play Store to your Fire TV Stick. What we’ve found is a method that works with a rooted Fire TV and a method that can work without a rooted Fire TV. We’ve also suggested a few alternatives to adding Google Play that will still allow you to get your favorite Android apps on your Fire TV.
You may also be interested in other Fire TV installation guides we have available:
- Ultimate Fire TV Sideloading Guide
- How to Install a VPN on the Fire TV/Stick
- How to Install Kodi on a Fire TV/Stick
Before We Proceed
Downloading Google Play opens up your Fire TV Stick to a wealth of new apps, including a number of streaming programs. However, securing your identity online is important when streaming or web browsing.
To best secure your identity while streaming and browsing online through your Fire TV Stick, we suggest a VPN. Our best recommendation for online privacy solutions is ExpressVPN – a complete privacy solution for all online streaming and browsing activities.
A Note About VPNs
Throughout this article we may reference VPNs and encourage you to use one for various reasons. Having tested several VPN services ourselves, we've found that IPVanish is the best all-purpose VPN solution. It allows you to remain completely anonmymous while browsing the internet, streaming videos, or torrenting files, ensuring that no one (including your ISP) can see what you're doing. It's also worth mentioning that purchasing a 12 month subscription will give you two months free.
How to Install Google Play on a Fire TV Stick
There are some things you’ll want to consider before installing the Google Play app on your Fire TV.
First, it’s important to note that many of the apps you may be trying to access through Google Play are already available as separate APK files. There’s a good chance that you can sideload these apps without going through the somewhat lengthy process to add the Google Play app.
Furthermore, the Google Play app is not specifically designed to work well with the Fire TV. Even after installation, some apps may not show up, while others may show up that don’t actually work with the Fire TV operating system. Although most Android-based apps do work with Fire TV, as Fire TV is indeed running a version of Android, it’s not always a perfect match.
Finally, the Google Play app does have a tendency to update. When that happens, you may find that the version you’re using losing functionality or may stop working the same way. Unlike most sideloaded apps, the Google Play app works very differently, so it’s important to understand there are always going to be some limitations to how well this will work for you.
Best Method: Unrooted Fire TV Via File Manager
If you’re not into rooting your device, this method may work for you.
- First, change your system settings. Go to Settings
- Click on Developer Options
- Click to enable Apps from Unknown Sources and ADB Debugging
These three steps will prep your device to receive apps that are not found on the Amazon App Store. Next, you’ll need to download and install a file manager. There are several available. However, we’ll be using ES File Explorer.
- Go to your Amazon App Store and download ES File Explorer
Next, we’ll need to download a set of APK files that you’ll need get the Google Play Store up and running. Unlike most other sideloaded apps, the Google Play Store requires several files.
Download each one of these files:
The best way to do this is to download and install each file directly through ES File Explorer.
Hit the Plus Symbol in your ES File Explorer, then enter in the shortened version of each link below. We’ve provided the full-length version of each download link in case, for whatever reason, our shortened versions don’t work for you. ES File Explorer will give you the option to download the file, and then the option to install the file once the download is complete.
Google Account Manager 5.1-1743759
- Short: http://bit.ly/2bMbGEg
- Full: http://www.apkmirror.com/apk/google-inc/google-account-manager/google-account-manager-5-1-1743759-release/google-account-manager-5-1-1743759-android-apk-download/
Google Services Framework 5.1-1743759
- Short: http://bit.ly/2bMmpQA
- Full: http://www.apkmirror.com/apk/google-inc/google-services-framework/google-services-framework-5-1-1743759-release/google-services-framework-5-1-1743759-android-apk-download/
Google Play Services 10.0.84 (230-137749526)
- Short: http://bit.ly/2gwyETx
- Full: http://www.apkmirror.com/apk/google-inc/google-play-services/google-play-services-10-0-84-release/google-play-services-10-0-84-230-137749526-android-apk-download/
Google Play Store 7.5.08.M-all  [PR] 146162341
- Short: http://bit.ly/2kyAUKd
- Full: http://www.apkmirror.com/apk/google-inc/google-play-store/google-play-store-7-5-08-m-all-0-pr-146162341-release/google-play-store-7-5-08-m-all-0-pr-146162341-android-apk-download/
The Google Play Store app will only be fully functional once you have all of these APK files installed. The extra files connect to Google Play Services, and your Google account so you can properly log into Google Play.
Sideloading on Amazon Fire TV: Alternatives to Google Play
While it’s good to install Google Play on a Fire TV Stick, you may be better off using other methods to sideload Google apps onto your Amazon Fire TV Stick. Here are a few methods that may offer better results.
Alternative 1: Use Apps2Fire
The Apps2Fire program is an excellent Android-based app that will allow you to send your phone’s or tablet’s apps directly to your Amazon Fire TV Stick. One significant limitation to this, however, is that the apps have to be ones that are installed and running on your Android device. This means you cannot send and install the files directly to your Fire TV Stick if it’s just an APK file. However, this should not be a problem, given you can always uninstall the app from your Android device once you’re doing sending it over to your Fire TV.
To use this method, do the following:
- Go to your Amazon Fire TV Stick Settings
- Click on Developer options
- Click to enable Apps from Unknown Sources and ADB Debugging
- Return to Settings and go to About
- Click on Network
- Copy down your Amazon Fire TV Stick’s IP Address
ADB debugging is particularly important here, as it is what allows you to connect to the Fire TV Stick over a wifi connection, and allows you to install apps directly from your Android device.
Next, do the following:
- Install Apps2Fire (Original) onto your Android device (tablet or phone). It’s important that you use the app labeled Original here. There are several clones on the Google Play Store
- Open your Apps2Fire app
- Slide the menu bar at the top until you see Setup
- Enter Setup, and then enter your Fire TV Stick IP Address where it says “IP address of your FireTV”
To install new apps, go to the Local Apps tab. There, click on any app, such as your Kodi app, and then click Install. This will send that file on over to your Fire TV Stick and install it for you.
Alternative 2: Directly Download and Install APK Files
Your second alternative follows the same steps as the method you would use to install Google Play. However, instead of downloading and installing the Google Play APK files, you would download and install any Android app’s APK file.
You can find many different APK files using the following resources:
You can directly download any APK file and install it using the same process as listed above. Simply change out the web address to the specific web address for the downloadable file of your choice. We recommend using a link shortener, such as Bit.ly or Goo.gl, so you save yourself some time trying to type in the links using your Fire TV remote.
You can also save your APK files to Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or DropBox, and connect to these from your ES File Explorer File Manager app. This will allow you to download these files directly from your online file storage, and cut out the longer process required to type in the web addresses each time for the downloads.
Safety Concerns With APK Files
One main reason certified app stores exist is to help vet programs and avoid virus issues. Although some apps you might find in an app store can still carry viruses (often through the advertisement placements), in most cases, the apps on any given app store will be verified and safe to download.
This security measure is not always going to be in place when downloading APK files and installing those files onto your Fire TV Stick. When you use alternative methods, you’re putting your trust in both the individuals who uploaded the files and the websites hosting them to make sure the programs are virus-free.
Unfortunately, there is no real guarantee that you’ll be free from viruses when using APKs downloaded from various websites. We generally trust the websites for APKs that we listed above, but even then, be cautious.
We recommend that you test each APK you download using a virus scanning software first, before trying to sideload it onto your Fire TV Stick. There are a large number of trustworthy virus programs out there that will do this for you. Just make sure you’ve checked each APK file before attempting to install it onto your system.
Sideloading on Fire TV: Commonly Asked Questions
Wondering whether it’s ok to install Google Play or other apps onto your Amazon Fire TV Stick that are not normally available? Here are a few commonly asked questions that might help clear up some confusion.
What is “sideloading”?
Sideloading is the term used for installing programs onto your device from outside of the normal process. All of the methods we’ve listed above are a form of sideloading. When using those methods, you’re installing a program that is not normally available, using alternative programs from outside of the Fire TV operating system’s normal method.
Will sideloading void my warranty?
Sideloading is perfectly acceptable and should not void your warranty. As you’ll note, Amazon makes these developer options available to anyone. Amazon typically disallows the ability to sideload without first changing the developer settings because Amazon has certain apps that are guaranteed to work with its device.
Is sideloading legal?
Similar to the warranty issue, sideloading is also perfectly legal.
Will every android app work on Fire TV?
Unfortunately, no. Even if you download different apps from Google Play, or install them from an APK, there is no guarantee that they will work on your Fire TV Stick. The apps available on your Amazon App Store are verified to work with the device. Any other app, such as those sideloaded using Apps2Fire, may not work, as they may not be programmed to work with the Fire TV operating system. Although Fire TV and Fire TV Stick use a modified version of Android, there are differences that may make numerous Android apps incompatible.
Are there alternatives to ES File Explorer?
Yes! Another popular option is Total Commander. Although Total Commander has fewer options than ES File Explorer, some users prefer it. Total Commander has much less clutter than ES File Explorer and is far easier to navigate. You can also reap the benefits of connecting Total Commander to your online file storage services, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Doing so will let you sideload APK files fairly quickly.
You can find Total Commander by searching for it in your Amazon App Store
Do I need to root my Fire TV Stick?
You’ve likely seen different comments and guides that mention rooting your Fire TV Stick. Thankfully, you do not need to root your Fire TV Stick to sideload Google Play or any other Android app.
What is “rooting”? It’s a version of jailbreaking that is typically just used for Android devices. When you root your device, you remove the limitations on what applications can be installed. At the most basic level, this allows you to do more with your device. While sideloading apps on your unrooted device will not void the warranty, rooting your Fire TV Stick will do so. Consider carefully whether this is something you need or want to do before accessing and following any guides on how to root your Fire TV Stick.
That said, there are some more high-level benefits to rooting, but most people don’t need to do this, especially with the other sideloading options available. Additionally, you may not be able to root your Fire TV Stick anyway. The 1st generation First TV Stick (2015) can be rooted, while the 2nd generation version (2016) cannot.