Earlier in the year we reported on the various bugs plaguing the HBO Max app on Apple TV after a small update with a video UI overhaul meant problems with playing, rewinding, fast-forwarding, subtitles and, well, pretty much everything. HBO were thankfully very publicly acknowledging these issues and released an update that fixed the problems within a week. Since then, however, other small bugs have crept in, such as one where subtitles would keep turning on.
This, coupled with issues on many other platforms such as Roku, has prompted HBO to replace every app on every platform in the coming months. This is as per a story over at Vulture, which quoted from an unnamed HBO executive on the plans.
Some interesting points were discussed and uncovered, such as:
• The HBO Max app was built on top of the code base for the previous HBO Go and HBO Now apps which were aimed at being a second portal to the channel for cable subscribers.
• HBO Max is a different strategy, aiming to bring lots of new content and the back catalogue and HBO catch-up to a broader user base, including 39 new countries outside of the US.
• This, along with the introduction of a new ad-supported tier, added to the app's complexity and, apparently, many of the bugs.
• Roku and Playstation users will get the new app first, Apple TV customers later in the year.
• New bugs with the new app are anticipated, 'common for any new product launch'.
• The new interface will be more 'sophisticated and cool and sexier'.
It will undoubtedly be interesting to see how this roll-out of the new app goes, and HBO will know that all eyes will be on them to pull it off. As I said in an piece on The Chicago Tribune about streaming interfaces: "When their problem with their Apple TV app occurred recently, I saw lots and lots of people say they were cancelling because of this issue. While that's maybe a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, it showed that people really valued their experience on the service and that without a show like 'Game of Thrones' — and with more and more services competing for your time and money — they would happily move on to another one."
Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction for HBO Max, and maybe we'll even see the updated video player UI from the upcoming version of tvOS. However, I suspect the non-native visual style might have already been shown to us in the last fateful update, which would be a shame.
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