Smart TV Streaming Stick: How to choose the right one

Media streaming devices host hundreds of apps on their platforms. In 2020, Amazon Fire Stick was the most popular set-top box (STB). But when developing your app for media streaming devices, you must consider all set-top-box platforms and survey your options. While Fire TV development is the most popular option, it may not suit your needs.

In this article, we explore the differences between available media streaming platforms. Learn the pros and cons of the most popular devices and decide which is best for your product.


Roku released the first streaming stick in 2012. While they previously offered Netflix streaming boxes, the streaming stick opened a world of possibilities to home audiences.

These small network appliances resemble a USB stick in size and shape. They plug directly into your home TV’s HDMI port and allow users to access the Roku platform, hosting a range of streaming apps.

By the third generation, Roku devices included live streaming, music, TV, and even some games.

While continuing to manufacture their coveted streaming devices, Roku started developing Smart TVs. By 2014, Roku TVs were competing with top-of-the-line smart TVs from Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic.

STB Apps for Roku

Selecting the right streaming platform relies on many factors. Each device on this list has unique advantages.

Roku channels are great for video-on-demand content. New creators looking to garner a following benefit from the Roku platform. Also, creators with followings can direct them to this single, accessible platform.

Amazon Fire Stick’s popularity only recently overtook Roku, so developing an app on Roku still retains a lot of viewership. Users like apps that offer convenience. Choosing Roku directs viewers to an already prolific device and doesn’t create an unnecessary hassle.

You can lease Roku channels for quick app development using templates, use Roku Direct Publishing to create your channel, or hire a developer to create and maintain the channel for you.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

The first generation of Amazon Fire TV Sticks launched in November of 2014. Among one of the first STB streaming devices released, Amazon solidified itself as a trusted option for home streaming.

Amazon Fire TV Sticks followed the same basic design as Roku before them. The Amazon Fire interface allows audiences to access streaming networks on any device. By 2016, Amazon continued to follow Roku’s success. They began manufacturing Fire Smart TVs that could access the UI without any external devices.

STB Apps for Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV apps are free to make and publish on the Amazon Appstore. This process makes your app available on the most popular streaming devices in North America.

Currently, the Fire OS platform hosts over 30 million users. Whether you host a live TV app, health and fitness videos, a cooking channel, or more, you can make it and publish it to the Amazon Appstore.

Apple TV

Apple TV follows the same basic design as the Firestick. Connecting the Apple TV device to any television via the HDMI port allows users to access the Apple TV interface, including its native apps. 

Apple TV includes all the main streaming channels including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, ESPN, Disney+, and more. While you do not have to pay to download any apps from Apple TV, you can expect in-app purchases to gain access to your desired content.

Apple TV includes an airplay option that allows users to cast media from their phones and computers to the TV. But, this perk only works for users who have Apple products like iPhones and Macbooks. Android users won’t enjoy this functionality.

STB Apps for Apple TV

One major pro to launching your STB app on Apple TV is the propensity for Apple users to spend more money. With its sleek design and clean marketing, Apple solidified its standing as the “it” product of our generation.

More than devices, Apple products are status symbols that dedicated users faithfully turn to.

In recent years, Apple TV received a push from the company executives to invest more time and energy into the apps on their platform including Apple TV exclusive content, recommendations through the App Store, and UX/UI design updates. 

Google TV and Android TV

In 2013, Google launched their first STB, Chromecast. As of 2020, it remains one of the most popular media streaming devices in homes across North America.

Instead of plugging in a streaming device with native apps like other devices, Chromecast allowed you to stream media from your phone or tablet to the TV. So, you could open your YouTube app from your phone and send the video to your television screen.

In 2020, Chromecast joined the other streaming devices by adding a user interface and native apps to their casting device as they unveiled the Chromecast with Google TV. 

Since its launch, Google TV and Android TV apps run through the same platform.

STB Apps for Google and Android TV

The Google play store is available on all Google devices, Android devices, and devices that run on Windows OS. Moreover, many major TV companies like Sony, Philips, Sharp, and Hisense run on the Android operating system.

That means that the Google Play Store is one of the most accessible app marketplaces worldwide. This allows you to reach the most amount of people with your STB app.

The best performing STB apps for Google and Android TV are video-on-demand services.

Google TV and Android TV have many app development options including channel leasing, in-house development, hiring a developer, and purchasing an app template. 

Develop Your App Today 

Understanding the differences and benefits of each STB streaming service is an important first step as you shop your app around. While leasing and templates are always a viable option for your STB app, you won’t always get the customization or quality that your product deserves. That’s why it’s better to look for software development options that will make your app stand out against the vast marketplace of media streaming devices.