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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.
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 NOW has been the top grossing entertainment app on Google Play for a little while now, but the app just reached another significant milestone. It's ringing in the new year by the numbers, having just hit 10,000,000 installs on the Play Store. That's a lot of downloads, with some big implications for the number of subscribers the service has, though it's impossible to know for sure.
Who wants to use buttons and apps to start streaming video when you can just yell at your virtual assistant? No one, that's who. Google Assistant added support for starting Netflix streams a while back, but other services have been slow to follow. There's a new one today, though. HBO Now subscribers can plug into Assistant in just a few steps.
We noticed over the last week that some listings on Google Play are showing when items are available via HBO's NOW streaming service. We aren't entirely sure how new this is, as neither company has made any announcements related to it. In fact, some of us here at AP aren't seeing it at all, regardless of whether we have HBO NOW installed or not.
One of the most interesting new features introduced during the Google I/O keynote has to be the integration between Google Home and Chromecast. The intelligent assistant can now show visual responses to interactions you have via any Chromecast connected TV. For a while now we've been able to play videos through our Chromecast via YouTube and Netflix, and now many more services are being added.
HBO's online and app-based streaming options are surprisingly competent - they put the likes of DirecTV and Comcast, much larger organizations with ostensibly more resources, to shame. But that doesn't mean that there's no room for improvement. To that end, HBO is now publishing a beta version of, um, NOW, the cable-free standalone app for streaming cordcutters. It's available on the Play Store now via the standardized opt-in interface.
Both last year's Chromecast and the new Chromecast Ultra are great deals for the functionality they offer, but every once in a while, Google throws in extra goodies with Chromecast purchases. This time around, Google is offering three free months of HBO Now if you buy a Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra.
The small print reveals that purchases from November 23 until December 24 will receive the offer, and it can be redeemed at any time until January 8. This only applies if you sign up for HBO Now for the first time; if you already have a subscription, this unfortunately doesn't get you three free months.
Or in other words, HBO Now support for Android TV has actually arrived. Sure, you could sideload the app that was updated with compatibility back in October, but that software was aimed at Sony and Sharp smart TVs. Now you can install the app directly from the Play Store from your set-top box of choice. Alternatively, you can head to the website and download the app remotely.