Following the HBO Max launch, HBO has decided to leave Apple TV Channels — which let users subscribe to and watch HBO content directly in the Apple TV app. Unfortunately, it seems that the experience with its own app has been disappointing users, as a recent report notes that the latest version of the HBO Max app for tvOS “breaks several key features.”
Just like other streaming apps available for Apple TV, the HBO Max app was previously using the native tvOS player with full support for Siri Remote gestures and Siri interactions. However, as noted by Screen Times, HBO recently decided to change this for some unknown reason.
As of version 50.30.0 of the app, which was released on June 2, HBO Max on Apple TV no longer uses the native tvOS player. The company replaced the system’s official APIs for its own solution, which caused several features to stop working — most of them that were previously implemented through the native tvOS player.
As an example, users can no longer ask Siri for “What did they say?” to instantly enable subtitles. The new player also doesn’t let users rewind or fast-forward 15 seconds by tapping the edges of the Siri Remote trackpad, and there’s no support for tapping the trackpad to navigate the timeline while the video is playing.
There are also complaints about SDR content being forced to run in HDR, which results in less brightness and saturated colors, and the lack of an option to turn subtitles on or off without having to pause the video, which was also previously possible.
The bottom line is, the viewing experience in the HBO Max app is now horrifically bad and almost unusable unless you’re planning just to play and pause. If you need to do anything else, don’t get your hopes up. Ironically, the notes for the update are “A smoother streaming experience is waiting for you with a focus on bug fixes and performance improvements”.
Users of HBO Max on Apple TV are clearly upset, and some of them are thinking that this is somehow related to a bug in tvOS — which is not the case.
Unfortunately, HBO hasn’t said anything about reverting the app back to the old player or bringing these features back with a future update. Have you also noticed these issues with the HBO Max app on tvOS? Let us know in the comments below.