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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's been over two months since Google started releasing Android 4.3 builds, and in all that time users of the updated Nexus and Google Play edition devices haven't been able to access the HBO GO or MAX GO (Cinemax) video services. Considering that subscriptions to both channels are pricey (on top of a cable or satellite subscription, no less) that made for a lot of less-than-satisfied customers.
Thankfully, both apps have finally been updated to new versions: 2.2.05 for both HBO GO and MAX GO.
HBO has been completely uncompromising in its approach to locking up content in pay-for-TV. If you want to watch what are arguably the best TV series currently running, you need to pay your cable provider. The HBO GO and MAX GO apps have provided a little more choice for existing subscribers by streaming to tablets and phones, but the new 2.0 update finally unlocks HDMI video output.
Before this update, the ability to output video over HDMI was blocked for both these apps, so this is kind of a big deal.
Most of the time when an app is updated, it's pretty clear what the update brings. New features? Enhancements and tweaks? Bug fixes? Whatever the case may be - it's right there in the changelog. However, there are those circumstances when that's just not the case. The recent update to HBO GO and MAX GO are a perfect example of this - especially the latter.