Jul 2, 2013
The Ouya released rather recently, and there’s been complaints about the lack of content on there: there’s hundreds of games and a selection of non-game apps right now, but there are plenty of notable omissions. Of course, half the fun of the Ouya is that it’s an open Android device, and getting apps that aren’t yet on the Ouya store to your console is a breeze. Here’s how to sideload apps on to the Ouya.
How to Sideload
The Ouya interface doesn’t make it immediately clear how to install your own apps. Your best bet is to install a file manager and then install apps from there. Do just that. Go to the Ouya’s Make menu, and go to Software. Open up the browser. Now, download Astro v3 from Metago’s web page. Back out to the main menu and go to Manage, System, Advanced, which takes you to the default Android settings. From here, open Storage, Downloads. Install Astro. It will now be listed next to the browser in the Make/Software menu.
Copy the apps to your Ouya by plugging it in to your computer and copying them anywhere, though I recommend creating an Apps folder. You can copy while the system is on and in use. Now open up Astro, and using the touchpad on the Ouya controller, choose Manage My Files. Go to the folder with the app you want to install and chose Install. Follow the dialogue to install the app. Assuming that it’s a non Ouya-optimized one, it will appear in the Make/Software menu. Now just launch the app, and you’re good to go.
The easiest way to get APKs for yourself is to back the app up using a file manager. Astro has the ability to back up apps to APKs, as does File Expert. Both apps have Backup Apps options on their main screens. Get the APK files they create off of your device and on to your Ouya!
Apps that aren’t optimized for the Ouya’s controls and settings will be hit or miss. Here’s a few apps I tried from across the spectrum that show the postives and drawbacks of sideloading on Ouya.
MLB At Bat: Works normally! The d-pad works for some actions, and video playback is not as high-quality as it could be, but the app works perfectly well with the Ouya.
Netflix: The app runs, and video can be watched, but only if an advanced setting to kill all processes as they are quit is disabled. The Ouya has this setting enabled so that background processes don’t slow down game performance. Short answer: until an Ouya-optimized version is released, no Netflix for you. You’ll just have to play it on one of the dozen other devices you own that can play back Netflix.
OnLive: The streaming game service is still alive! And it works great on Ouya despite not being there at launch. The only issue that arises is that because the Ouya controller lacks the standard Start/Select buttons of most HID controllers (which the Ouya controller seems to work as) that some controls in some games will not work.
Metal Slug 3: These faulty controls rear their ugly head here. Try continuing when running out of lives while using the Ouya controller. You can’t. Thankfully Xbox controllers work with the Ouya, but this does limit what the Ouya controller can do.
While sideloading is an imperfect experience, there’s still plenty of unofficial functionality that can be added to the Ouya if you’re clever. Sideload away, and let us know if you find anything that works particularly well!