The new Now TV Box is great. It’s cheap and comes with a ton of features, but it’s not perfect. Thankfully, adding third party apps to make it better, is no problem.
One of the things we really don’t like about the new Sky-branded Roku streamer is that there’s no native media player. This is despite the device actually featuring a USB port and microSD card; you’d be forgiven for thinking that you could easily connect an external drive and stream your own content, but no.
Luckily for you, it’s dead easy to get things like Plex, Emby and PlayTo running on your Now TV Box. While these won’t support plug and play, it’s at least a way of getting stuff stored on media servers to play on your TV. We’ll explore that in depth in a future feature, but for now, here’s how you get those apps (and other third party programs) on your Now TV Box in the first place.
What is Now TV developer mode and why would I want to do this?
Turning on developer mode lets you install third party apps that you won’t be able to directly install from the Channel Store. This is a process called ‘sideloading,’ as you’re loading in an app from a side door, so to speak.
While it’s called ‘developer mode’ it’s actually not that hard at all - you don’t need to know anything about PHP, SQL, Agile or any of that other guff the Tech Support nerds always carp on about.
OK, sounds good! How can I turn on developer mode?
With little effort, as it happens. While Sky hasn’t made this an easily-accessible option in a settings menu or anything like that, you can turn on developer mode by entering a Konami-style code on the controller.
On your Now TV Box remote, enter the following, on any screen:
If you’ve done it correctly, you should see the following screen.
Write down that IP address. Do it. Now.
Make a note of the IP address and admin username. These are essential for later, so write them down, save them in Google Docs or wherever’s most convenient. Unless you’ve got a photographic memory and perfect recall, don’t go beyond this stage until you’ve noted down these two things. If you don’t any you forget them, you will have wasted your time.
Once you’ve saved your IP address and admin name, you’ll be prompted to create a password.
Create a password. Write that down too.
Once you’ve entered your password (which you should save unless, as noted, you have a perfect memory), agree to the terms and conditions. Your Now TV Box will then restart.
Once that’s done you’ll see the same loading animation you saw when you set it up for the first time. This should only take a couple of minutes after which you’ll be greeted with the familiar home screen.
I’ve enabled developer mode! Now what?
Congratulations, you’ve turned on developer mode! Give yourself +10 Internet Points.
While nothing seems to have changed on the surface, you’re now free to start installing third party apps on your Now TV Box. We’ll take you through how to do that now.
How to install third party apps on the Now TV Box
Installing or ‘sideloading’ third party apps onto the Now TV Box is really easy. The first thing you’ll need to do is find the app or service you actually want to load on to here.
As an example, we’ll show you how to install Plex, as it’s easily available and it’s a good service that’ll let you stream files stored on your network on your Now TV Box, even files the hardware itself doesn’t officially support.
You can get hold of a copy of Plex from this GitHub page. This is maintained by Plex developers, we’ve tested it out on numerous devices and can vouch for its reliability. It should go without saying that when you’re installing third party apps, only install things you trust.
Hit the ‘Download ZIP’ icon over on the right. Save the ZIP file somewhere you can easily get hold of it, like on your desktop, in the downloads folder, or wherever you keep stuff.
Once you’ve done this, open a fresh browser window or tab and enter the IP address. If done correctly, you should see a screen like this:
Now enter the username (which is always ‘rokudev’) and the password (which you wrote down/committed to memory earlier) and hit ‘Enter’. If done correctly, you’ll now see a rather dull-looking grey page:
Yes, it’s sparse and ugly, but it works. All you need to do is click ‘Browse’, find the ZIP file you want and hit ‘Install’.
If everything goes to plan, you should see a screen like this:
The Now TV menu on your TV screen should immediately refresh and you should see Plex (or whatever you’re installing) sitting pretty next to all the other services.
If you run out of space and want to remove third party apps, you can repeat the process described above and click 'Delete' next to the currently installed application.
And that’s that! Your Now TV Box is now good to go.