HBO Max ditches tvOS API for homegrown solution, chaos ensues

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited June 4
A recent update to the HBO Max app on tvOS has reportedly introduced a number of bugs and broken compatibility with key Apple TV platform features like Siri integration.

HBO Max


HBO exited Apple TV Channels after HBO Max launched last year, but the company continued to use Apple's tvOS API as a software backbone. That changed on Wednesday when HBO switched to homegrown player software as part of an app update.

The new HBO Max app is apparently bug-ridden and makes for what Screentimes calls a "horrifically bad" experience.

For example, users are no longer able to access certain Siri prompts like "What did he/she say?," an automatic rewind feature that plays back a portion of a movie with closed captioning. According to the report, nearly all Siri commands are non-functional.

Siri Remote support was also broken with yesterday's update. Users can no longer skip forward or backward with a quick tap of the remote's directional pad -- or trackpad, for older devices -- and touching the same interface no longer displays a show's timeline. Pausing and scrubbing through a content timeline causes the timestamp marker to move only to the start or end of a show.

Display quality is also affected, as SDR content is "forced" into what appears to be a poorly interpolated HDR mode that blows out brightness and renders colors incorrectly.

HBO has not commented on the release or its decision to move away from Apple's API.

Follow all of WWDC 2021 with comprehensive AppleInsider coverage of the week-long event from June 7 through June 11, including details on new launches and updates.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    earthkidearthkid Posts: 25member
    So is that mean SBOL or HBO mac don’t want Apple users to use their service? Innoway, they’re kind of saying if you are Apple user I don’t want you to use my service.
    killroy
  • Reply 2 of 46
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 889member
    Either this is a poorly thought out strategy to get HBO customers to be dissatisfied with Apple TV

    or

    Its an engineer or more who has a distaste for Apple personally and sold the board on going a generic coding route. 

    Either that or a new lazy/incompetent dev team. 

    Either way, it’s all bad news. 

    HBO needs to fix this ASAP. 

    Apple doesn’t look bad for this. HBO does. It reflects poorly in their brand and standards. 
    jahbladegregoriusmOferhcrefugeebloggerblogkillroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 46
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,689member
    Haha I was wondering what the fuck was going on last night. Tried going back ten seconds in Mare of Easttown and tapping didn't work, scrubbing would cause the marker to slowly and uncontrollably scroll left or right. Force quit the app twice before giving up and just watching from the first spot I could get back in. This, as described in the source:

    "Pausing and then scrubbing forward and back has a massive bug, and the timestamp needle flies off in either direction with no way to slow it down until it hits the start or end."

    Great job, HBO. 
    edited June 3 gregoriusmhcrefugeewilliamlondonStrangeDayskillroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 46
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,668member
    Haha I was wondering what the fuck was going on last night. Tried going back ten seconds in Mare of Easttown and tapping didn't work, scrubbing would cause the marker to slowly and uncontrollably scroll left or right. Force quit the app twice before giving up and just watching from the first spot I could get back in. This, as described in the source:

    "Pausing and then scrubbing forward and back has a massive bug, and the timestamp needle flies off in either direction with no way to slow it down until it hits the start or end."

    Great job, HBO. 
    I was watching that show last night as well.  I had some weird artifacts and such…some glitches, but as I use my phone as a remote I don’t recall scrubbing or other issues.  


    gregoriusmBeatswelshdogkillroy
  • Reply 5 of 46
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,668member
    Either this is a poorly thought out strategy to get HBO customers to be dissatisfied with Apple TV

    or

    Its an engineer or more who has a distaste for Apple personally and sold the board on going a generic coding route. 

    Either that or a new lazy/incompetent dev team. 

    Either way, it’s all bad news. 

    HBO needs to fix this ASAP. 

    Apple doesn’t look bad for this. HBO does. It reflects poorly in their brand and standards. 
    Occam’s Razor would suggest it’s neither scenario.  I’d guess it was straight incompetence in design and testing.  They wanted to do their own thing…it probably came from a hubristic tech team….and they f*cked up royally.  And yes, it’s a terrible look.  
    edited June 3 gregoriusmOferhcrefugeenarwhalwilliamlondonrusswwelshdogStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 46
    Cancelling until I see news it’s been fixed. This is good timing for me, at least, as the subscription renews on the 6th.
    gregoriusmchasmwilliamlondonBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 46
    neillwdneillwd Posts: 30member
    I would speculate that they needed to integrate their advertising platform and put in more usage tracking. Hopefully, Zaslav can help them get their act together.
    gregoriusmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 46
    gregoriusmgregoriusm Posts: 463member
    sdw2001 said:
    Either this is a poorly thought out strategy to get HBO customers to be dissatisfied with Apple TV

    or

    Its an engineer or more who has a distaste for Apple personally and sold the board on going a generic coding route. 

    Either that or a new lazy/incompetent dev team. 

    Either way, it’s all bad news. 

    HBO needs to fix this ASAP. 

    Apple doesn’t look bad for this. HBO does. It reflects poorly in their brand and standards. 
    Occam’s Razor would suggest it’s neither scenario.  I’d guess it was straight incompetence in design and testing.  They wanted to do their own thing…it probably came from a hubristic tech team….and they f*cked up royally.  And yes, it’s a terrible look.  
    This. 
    narwhalBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 46
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 476member
    They're probably "saving money" by moving to some cross-platform trash like React Native and losing customers with a crappy app experience.
    gregoriusmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 46
    citpekscitpeks Posts: 151member
    AT&T probably assigned their crack development team, responsible for the AT&T TV app, to the new version of the HBOMax app.

    (yes, that is sarcasm)

    AT&T -- "We've got the anti-Midas touch™"
    sdw2001watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 46
    XedXed Posts: 1,028member
    Geez! You expect this sort of thing from Showtime or The CW, but not HBO.
    baconstangBeatshcrefugeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 46
    AppleishAppleish Posts: 366member
    Sigh. Apple needs to FORCE content providers to use their tech standards so all apps work the same. Make the 'walled garden' work in our favor. Our discounted rate just ended. Goodbye HBO Max.
    edited June 4 narwhalBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 46
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,630member
    neillwd said:
    I would speculate that they needed to integrate their advertising platform and put in more usage tracking. Hopefully, Zaslav can help them get their act together.
    We should see a raft of stories from security analysis next week then. 
    chasmrusswBeatskillroyhcrefugeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 46
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,391member
    I 100 percent concur with those who are speculating that HBO tried to do an end-run around Apple's high security/privacy standards in order to collect more data on their users. I'll be looking for follow-up reports on this, but HBO is f'ing with the wrong audience with this -- Apple users are the most lucrative audience out there with high expectations for "it just works" based on the standards Apple sets. They will not "hang around" for a week or more waiting for HBO to clean up their mess -- they'll cancel, because Apple makes it incredibly easy to cancel and otherwise manage subscriptions.
    Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 46
    I was debating whether I should keep HBOMax or not so I want to thank them for making my decision for me.
    Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 46
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,717member
    Appleish said:
    Sigh. Apple needs to FORCE content providers to use their tech standards so all apps work the same. Make the 'walled garden' work in our favor.
    I’m sure that’ll really help them out in all the court cases.

    What HBO have done is fine in principle, the problem is that they did a half-assed job of it.
    elijahg
  • Reply 17 of 46
    maclin3maclin3 Posts: 20member
    Well now I know. I was trying to watch warrior tonight on HBO max and every time I breathed on the remote control the show would uncontrollably fast forward and then uncontrollably rewind. I finally gave up and watched something on Netflix. What a bunch of garbage HBO. I love your content but that doesn’t really matter if I can’t watch it. 
    killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 46
    thedbathedba Posts: 652member
    Appleish said:
    Sigh. Apple needs to FORCE content providers to use their tech standards so all apps work the same. Make the 'walled garden' work in our favor. Our discounted rate just ended. Goodbye HBO Max.
    I 2nd that.
    Another app which moved away from Apple’s design standards is DAZN.
    On the trackpad Siri remote, when you swipe down, all apps bring up the Home/Subtitles/Audio menu. Netflix/Prime Video/TV+ are all consistent.
    Not DAZN, swiping down brings the multi view menu on their app.
    Very annoying if you ask me.

    edited June 4 BeatsStrangeDayskillroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 46
    rasoraso Posts: 2member
    I’ll explain why this happens for most streaming services. Product leadership (design, strategy, engineering) think they can do “better” then Apple not understanding what makes a tvOS app “feel” at home on the platform. The main reason stated is “consistency”. They have the false narrative that users want the app to work/look the same no matter what platform they use Apple TV, Fire TV, Android TV. Even though most AppleTV users aren’t going to be switching to a FireTV. Take a look at Disney+ or Netflix on AppleTV. Disney doesn’t use the standard player so things just don’t work the same, Netflix design to so claustrophobic with having only one row of content visible at a time.

    Apple has a very opinionated voice on how things should work and look. Apple users tend to agree with Apple, that is why they buy into their ecosystem. When developers don’t do it the Apple way it stands out. It is the same thing on the Mac, dedicated Apple users can spot a bad cross platform app from a mile away.
    Oferrusswgeorgie01tenthousandthingsStrangeDayskillroyRayz2016hcrefugeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 46
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,810member
    chasm said:
    I 100 percent concur with those who are speculating that HBO tried to do an end-run around Apple's high security/privacy standards in order to collect more data on their users. I'll be looking for follow-up reports on this, but HBO is f'ing with the wrong audience with this -- Apple users are the most lucrative audience out there with high expectations for "it just works" based on the standards Apple sets. They will not "hang around" for a week or more waiting for HBO to clean up their mess -- they'll cancel, because Apple makes it incredibly easy to cancel and otherwise manage subscriptions.
    I concur. This is a totally boneheaded whiskey tango foxtrot move that should result in a director level vacancy in HBO’s software engineering group. 

    As others have speculated, they probably wanted to inject some telemetry, metering, or data siphoning into what should be a purely functional interface. While this strategy isn’t unheard of, say for diagnostics or performance monitoring purposes, there are right ways and their are wrong ways to go about doing this sort of thing. 

    One of the right ways is to subclass an existing interface that’s ideally been designed to follow Open-Close principles, open to extension but closed to modification. Replacing the existing API, ones that’s been scrutinized and proven in action, with one of your own homegrown implementations violates the closed part in a thermonuclear way. It’s flatass wrong. 

    Stupid stupid stupid. 

    killroyhcrefugeewatto_cobra
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