WarnerMedia, and its parent company AT&T, is not the best with branding. There were once three individual HBO apps, each catering to a specific use case, but now the company is attempting to consolidate them across all platforms.
The streaming service landscape is quickly becoming convoluted with every TV network, production company, and entrepreneur launching their own exclusive platforms. That's where ScreenHits TV wants to come in. The company will soon launch a service in the US and the UK that lets you aggregate Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, BBC iPlayer, and more into one single interface and subscription.
As the novel coronavirus pandemic is expected to peak over the next several weeks, having the masses stay at home will be most crucial during this time. But the lockdown orders do have their deleterious domino effects from unemployment to mental deterioration. It's under these pretenses that AT&T-owned HBO has decided to offer about 500 hours of shows and movies to everyone, subscription-free.
HBO has some great exclusive shows that are only scarcely available outside its network, so you need to rely on the cable company's apps to enjoy its content on the go. Besides HBO Go and HBO Now, Home Box Office also offers a European version of its service, simply called HBO. This app has received a new download feature that finally brings it on-par with HBO Go and competing platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Disney+.
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.