We're big fans of Now TV, which offers a contract-free, flexible way of enjoying shows, movies and sports in your home. However, out of the box you'll find that Now TV is missing some key features, including a way to play any movies and shows from a hard drive. Here's how to turn on developer mode and install third party apps on your Now TV box, to remedy the situation.
One of the main things we really don’t like about the Sky-branded Roku streamer is that there’s no native media player. The Now TV box actually has a USB port and supports microSD memory cards, so of course you’d expect that you could easily connect an external hard drive or some other media and watch your downloaded video on your TV. But no, in its vanilla form that's strangely not possible.
Thankfully, it’s dead easy to download and use apps such as Plex, Emby and PlayTo on your Now TV Box. While these apps won’t directly support plug and play, you can at least stick your content on a home media server and then play it on your TV via the Now TV device.
So how do you actually get those apps (and other third party programs) on your Now TV Box? The answer is the developer mode.
What is Now TV developer mode and why would I want to do this?
Turning on developer mode lets you install third party apps on your Now TV box, which aren't available 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.
How can I turn on developer mode on my Now TV box?
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.
Best apps for NOW TV in Developer Mode
Once you’ve got your NOW TV unlocked and working as a wonder machine that is a Developer Mode unit you’ll notice this is all very Roku like. That’s because they’re essentially the same thing. As such, if you can side-load a “channel” as they’re called on Roku, then you can likely have it up and running on your NOW TV too. Since this has been an option for a long time on Roku there are plenty to pick from.
Nowhere TV is a good place to start which is just one app from a selection of “Nowhere” offerings. The TV version lets you play a host of TV channels from varying websites including BBC, some HBO, NBC, NHL and more. The Nowhere Bullet is fun too as it’ll push notifications from your Android phone to your TV. Check out the full selection at the Nowhere Man website.
There are plenty more options which we’ve already summarised in our best Roku private channels guide, which also applies to NOW TV devices in Developer Mode. Take a look for our suggestions of the best apps you can download right now.
For a complete list of all Roku channels, point your browser here.