Best smart TV apps: Your guide to smart TV apps

What are the best apps for your smart TV?

smart tv apps

by Marina Avraam |
Updated on

So, you’ve just purchased your brand-new smart TV and you’re wondering what apps to download. Whether you’re looking for entertainment, music or a way to keep yourself informed, here is a list of our top apps for your smart TV.

Keep in mind that while some apps are completely free of charge, most of the popular apps will require a paid subscription to access their content. To make it easier, we’ve separated the apps into the best subscription apps and the best free apps.

Best subscription apps

Amazon Prime Video – A subscription to this top-quality smart TV app will give you access to a wide array of movie and TV shows across every category imaginable. The service plays host to a typical catalogue of stream-ready content, including TV shows from The Office US to Downton Abbey and Mad Men, and films ranging from A Star is Born to Parasite.

Alongside this selection, you’ll be able to watch Prime Original movies and TV shows, like The Man In The High Castle, Vikings and the award-winning Manchester By The Sea. Unlike on other smart TV apps, Amazon Prime Video provides viewers the opportunity to watch a selection of live Premier League and Thursday Night Football games.

Prime Video is a service included with a standard Amazon Prime membership.

Disney+ – Disney’s answer to the rise of streaming is the service Disney+, offering an unmatched range of fan-favourite Disney franchises including Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar, as well as the animated timeless Disney Classics. Disney+ offers a family-friendly viewing experience and has become known for premiering movies before even hitting the big screen, with the live-action remake of Mulan being a noteworthy highlight.

Netflix – A trailblazer subscription-service for streaming TV and film, Netflix truly offers something for everyone with thousands of films, shows and documentaries to choose from, with more being released weekly. Shows and films available on Netflix include Breaking Bad, Django Unchained, Spirited Away and Schitt’s Creek. Netflix also has a wide range of original content - you’ve probably already heard of The Social Dilemma, Stranger Things, The Crown, Black Mirror and Bird Box, all produced by Netflix and exclusively available on the app.

Apple TV+ - The premium subscription service Apple TV+ features a range of original films and shows, with fresh Apple-commissioned originals being released every month. In comparison to Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, you won’t be finding as many blockbuster films or TV show classics on here; rather, Apple TV+ is focused on high-budget exclusives, such as The Morning Show and See.

Now TV – If you’re looking to access Sky content, Now TV could be the perfect app for your smart TV. Now TV works by offering customers a range of passes such as Entertainment, Sky Cinema and Sports Pass, allowing you to choose the perfect plan for you. The Entertainment Pass is a popular pick, with free access to live channels including Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Fox and MTV. With any pass, you'll be able to watch content live or with catch-up 24-hours after broadcast.

smart tv apps

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Best free apps

YouTube - YouTube is the ideal app for accessing the weird and wonderful world of internet videos. Whether it’s a cooking show, fashion vlog or a Christmas Medley – you’ll find it on YouTube. Countless entertainment videos from independent creators are easy to find on the YouTube app, and if you’re looking for an ad-free experience you can check out YouTube’s paid feature YouTube Premium.

BBC iPlayer An on-demand catch-up app, BBC iPlayer offers UK residents a streamlined viewing experience, free of commercial ads. You’ll be able to binge your favourite BBC programmes right from your smart TV - including Killing Eve and Peaky Blinders - soon after they’ve been broadcast, as well as your must-watch soaps, like EastEnders. Remember, you’ll need a valid TV license to legally view any BBC iPlayer content.

ITV Hub The ITV Hub video on-demand service will give you access to the shows and movies across all ITV channels. You’ll be able to stream live TV or catch up with your favourite shows like Family Guy or Love Island.

While you don’t need a TV license to view catch-up content on ITV Hub, any live broadcasting will require you to be covered by a valid TV license. You can find out more about when you need a license on the TV Licensing website.

4oD Much like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, you can download the 4oD smart TV app to catch up on shows like Made in Chelsea and The Great British Bake Off, as well as any other TV series and movies across Channel 4, E4, All 4 and Walter Presents. As for ITV Hub, you’ll only need a TV license if you are watching 4oD content live.

Spotify It goes without saying that there’s more than just movies and TV shows to enjoy on your new smart TV. With Spotify’s free service you can sit back, relax and listen to your favourite artist, album or playlist. If you prefer an ad-free experience and unlimited skips, check out Spotify Premium – there are several cash-saving packages available for families, too.

TuneIn Radio The TuneIn Radio app is a place to listen to your favourite music, while also keeping updated on world news and sports. With access to thousands of radio stations and podcasts ranging from comedy chat shows to debates on the paranormal, TuneIn Radio truly offers something for everyone.

Sky News Keeping informed is crucial. By downloading the Sky News smart TV app, you can stay updated on breaking news from the UK and around the world. You’ll also have access to exclusive opinion pieces, as well as insights from Sky News correspondents.

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best smart tv apps

Related: Best 50-inch smart TVs in 2021

Can you download apps on smart TV?

All smart TVs allow you to connect to the internet and install your favourite apps from their respective app stores. Many smart TVs will come with a few pre-installed apps, but you’ll still be able to download any extras at your discretion.

You can also download apps to various smart Freeview Play set-top boxes and recorders.

How can I download apps on my smart TV?

Like smartphones and tablets, most smart TVs will be equipped with an app store where you can search for and download your preferred apps. Certain apps will require a sign-up process, but so long as your smart TV is connected to the internet, the download process should be smooth. Keep in mind that the process may vary between brands and models, so for any queries ensure that you check with your TV handbook, help guide or directly with manufacturer

How can I watch free TV?

Freeview is the easiest way to watch television for free. Most smart TVs have Freeview Play pre-installed. If not, you can simply download it from the app store. After that you'll need to plug in an aerial to your TV and connect to your internet. You'll then have access to Freeview channels where you’ll be able to watch both live and on-demand TV for free. Just remember, you’ll need a TV license if you’re planning to watch BBC channels.

Freesat is also available on some smart TVs or via set-top boxes – you’ll need a satellite dish for this, though.

Can I get Zoom on my smart TV?

While the Zoom app isn’t directly available to download on to your smart TV, there are ways to mirror Zoom straight onto your TV.

If you have an Apple iPhone, iMac or iPad, you'll be able to use Airplay and Apple TV to mirror your display onto your smart TV.

If you’re not an Apple user, you can also mirror your display through Chromecast or Roku. If you have a Samsung TV and smartphone, you’re in luck, as Samsung allows for easy mirroring between their smartphones and smart TVs. However, if you prefer a traditional method and don’t mind a cable connection, connecting through HDMI is another fail-safe method to access Zoom on your smart TV.

What apps are free on smart TV?

While there are plenty of free apps available to download for your smart TV, many of the popular apps will require a paid subscription to be able to access their content. Luckily, this doesn’t apply to all.

As we’ve talked about above, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, 4OD and YouTube are all free and will help you access a range of original entertainment. For music, Spotify offers a free service where you can listen to any song, artist and playlist with the addition of a few ads, and TuneIn Radio allows you to stream any radio station for free, as well as listen to a range of podcasts.

Although technically not free, if you’re already an Amazon Prime Member, you can enjoy the Amazon Prime Video service at no extra charge.

Marina Avraam is a Storytelling Executive for WhatsThe Best, with a passion for psychology, reading and fashion writing.

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