HBO Go isn't a very good app—this is the harsh truth. Yet, people put up with it because HBO has content that they want to see. The app is getting an update today (standard and Android TV) that adds some long overdue features. We could complain that HBO Go is just now getting binge mode, or we could be thankful it's here. That's actually a lie; we can do both.
So far the focus in the new wave of headset-based virtual reality content seems to be video games, simulations, 360-degree videos and the like, but as it turns out, conventional 2D video content is easy to adapt into an immersive (if not groundbreaking) experience. Google itself offers all the content on YouTube in Daydream flavor, and now HBO is following suit. The premium cable channel has published a Daydream-compatible version of its online component, HBO GO, in the Play Store as an unreleased app.
Even with a major infusion of horsepower with devices like the NVIDIA SHIELD and Razer Forge TV, the biggest thing holding back the Android TV platform is a scarcity of apps compared to more mature alternatives like Roku. It looks like Google is quickly trying to close the gap: in addition to the announcement of HBO Now (currently exclusive to Apple hardware) at Google I/O, a handful of high-profile and formerly unavailable apps are also making their way to Android TV in the near future.
NVIDIA's SHIELD announcement post makes explicit mention of HBO Go (which is essentially the same thing as HBO Now, but for more conventional cable subscribers), FX Now, Fox Now, Fox News, EPIX, WWE, UFC, Vimeo, Qello, Vudu, and Twitch.
Amazon is fond of comparison tables that show how capable the Fire TV is, but there's always been one glaring omission—HBO Go. The premium streaming service has been listed as "coming soon" for a long time, but today Amazon gets to add another checkbox as HBO Go comes to Fire TV.
Over the next few weeks you're going to a see a lot of mainstream apps get quick (and possibly dirty) updates when the new Lollipop devices and software builds break some of their functionality. (No, we don't have any links to images yet.) Some of the first are HBO's streaming app HBO GO, and the same app for its sister network Cinemax, MAX GO. Both apps have been updated today to include "support for Android Lollipop."
The update text also says that the apps have added "higher resolution playback." That's all. We've done a little testing, and it doesn't look like the streaming video is going any higher than 1080p (and it would be strange for the mobile version to get higher resolution than cable set-top boxes).
I've wanted HBO for a while now, but I haven't desired it strongly enough to subscribe to an expensive cable plan and put up with an ugly box under my TV. I'm a young twenty-something that has cut the cord with no desire to get tethered down to such a dated system, and since I refuse to pirate content, I've opted to miss out on some great shows. I would love to give HBO my money, if only they would let me. Well, it looks like the company finally will. It reportedly plans to introduce a streaming plan next year that will let people get access to HBO content without putting up with cable or satellite.
Guys, the final piece of the puzzle is now in place: Amazon just announced that FireTV will be getting HBO GO. Since it launched without the service, it raised the question of whether it would ever be available to FireTV users; it looks like Amazon was just busy inking the deal with HBO, because there's actually even more to this story than that.
Not only will GO be coming to FireTV, but Amazon now has exclusive multi-year rights to certain HBO shows that will be available on Prime Instant Video. This marks the first time HBO has loosened its deathgrip on its own content, allowing it to be streamed on an outside service.
HBO has a mobile app. It lets you watch shows, and it supports Chromecast. Really, that's all that matters here. There's little else it needs in the way of features that will determine whether or not users will turn to it when the opportunity comes to spend some time with HBO. The real question is - do you really want to watch all those sex scenes on the family TV?
Let's go through the checklist. Is your mom home?
What about your dad?
Heck, let's change roles for a second. Would you really want to walk in on your daughter watching this?
Everyone panic! The HBO app is no longer listed in the Google Play Store! Game of Thrones starts in three weeks, how are we going to - wait, what's that? HBO Go is still there? Oh, it's the other HBO app that's gone. The one that doesn't stream episodes and movies. The one that no one uses. Well that's all right, then.
Yes, HBO fans, you can rest easy: nothing is happening to HBO Go, the cable service's streaming app that's free for subscribers. The previous HBO app, which featured a television schedule and various behind-the-scenes goodies, seems to have been un-published.
You asked. You begged. You pleaded. And your requests have not fallen on deaf ears... but it did take HBO a while, didn't it? The HBO GO app got a small update this morning, adding support for Google's streaming Chromecast dongle. Nothing more, nothing less.
After today's update to both Google's Chromecast whitelist and the HBO GO app itself, there are still just four third-party streaming apps that are compatible, including Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu Plus. You can also stream from YouTube, Google Play Music and Movies, or directly from a Chrome tab if you've got a PC handy.