HBO Max is rebuilding its awful Apple TV app from scratch to be stable and faster

HBO Max is revamping its buggy Apple TV app that’s prone to crashes to be more stable and faster. New features are coming, too.

A white HBO Max logo set against a purple gradient background
Image credit: WarnerMedia
  • HBO Max is rebuilding its TV app around a new interface, technology and features
  • The scrubbing and swiping experience on the remote will be improved
  • The updated app will roll out slowly over the next two weeks

Is there hope for HBO Max’s awful Apple TV app?

The Streamable has interviewed Sarah Lyons, who is HBO Max’s EVP for Global Product Management, who said that a new Apple TV app should be a good citizen on tvOS. In short, the refreshed software should, bring new features, be faster and feature more dynamic interface animations. This isn’t the first time WarnerMedia has promised to rebuild the Apple TV app but could be the last because the new app is ready for prime time.

It’s rolling out as we speak, a process that will take a few weeks to complete because this is a staggered rollout. If you don’t see the refreshed HBO Max app on your Apple TV, check back in a few weeks. There’s a new “My Stuff” section in the new app that lets you edit and sort items in your “My List” and “Continue Watching” queues.

The biggest thing we’re conscious of is Apple users are very used to that ecosystem and how that ecosystem behaves. The way that they scrub on the remote is really important to them, and candidly, we had not had some good scrubbing experiences in the past.

The scrubbing experience when HBO Max launched was laughable, at best. But the team heard negative feedback and is now focused on making sure that the scrubbing and swiping of the remote works well. They also implemented other tidbits, such as the ability to skip credits and jump directly to the next episode.

We’re trying to respect the Apple community and how they’re used to engaging, which is a little different than other platforms. So we’ve tried to take a tailored approach to each platform and address the things that matter to those users.

It took you more than two years to understand what the Apple community wants?

The previous app was slow, buggy and tedious to use. If you remember when HBO Max debuted the app for the first time, it disappointed many fans who were hoping for a nimble, smart app. HBO Max would be wise to not just rebuild the Apple TV app but also its backend. That could prove problematic because the service is powered by AT&T’s in-house streaming technology. Realizing it couldn’t dig itself out of this hole, WarnerMedia acquired You.i, a cross-platform streaming development company. Hopefully, we will get a modern HBO Max streaming app that was fast and easy enough to use for people to keep coming back to it.

Why streaming apps have terrible interfaces

HBO Max is hardly the only example of a poorly-designed streaming app—one could diss any streaming app for being slow and bloated, with poor search and a counterintuitive user interface. The worst example of that has got to be Amazon’s Prime Video app, whose user interface is basically a huge web page. Hardly an ideal solution, but that’s where we’re now. If you feel like streaming is just becoming cable again, you’re wholeheartedly recommended to read Nilay Patel’s interview with Parrot Analytics senior strategy analyst JuliaJulia Alexander over at The Verge.