HBO Max just rolled out an update that fixes the playback experience on Apple TV after an earlier update absolutely botched the experience for everyone. The initial update was designed to zap “a few bugs lurking around to improve your streaming experience,” but had the opposite effect: it was riddled with problems, botched basic controls, and essentially broke the app for Apple TV users.
Basic functions like fast-forward, pause, and rewind, were completely unusable. New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz (opens in new tab) pointed out “[it doesn’t matter] if you use the apple remote or the remote mobile app. Idk how anyone is watching anything on there.”
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There’s legitimately no way to pause, rewind or fast forward on the HBO Max app no matter if you use the apple remote or the remote mobile app. Idk how anyone is watching anything on thereJune 7, 2021
We tested this out on our end, and found mixed results. Our own streaming editor Henry T. Casey (opens in new tab) checked out the above complaints, but couldn't actually find the issues in practice, though staff writer Kelly Woo had the bugs, stating "Oh yikes, this is really messed up."
HBO Max seemed to be just as clueless as to how such a buggy update went live. When asked how this all transpired on Twitter, Andy Forssell, EVP & General Manager, replied (opens in new tab) “That's the zillion dollar question,” which indicates they’re as in the dark as everyone else. But to its credit, all hands were on deck, with Forssell saying (opens in new tab) “The team is on it, fixes coming to address these issues. No excuses from us. More to come soon.”
Happily, the company has since resolved the issue in a second update by switching out the video player used in the app. Over on Twitter, Forssell said (opens in new tab) “Native player is on its way back, in short order. No excuses from us. Good intentions, bad execution. We'll learn from it.” The official HBO Max Twitter account also posted an update (opens in new tab):
“We just released an update to our Apple TV app, restoring the native tvOS video playback experience you know and love, with more improvements to come. Ensuring HBO Max viewers have a quality experience is our top priority and we missed the mark here. Thank you for your patience.”
Forssell also addressed (opens in new tab) the scrubbing issues on iOS, which should also have been resolved with the update.
As The Verge (opens in new tab) points out, the update fixed the worst of the problems, but HBO Max users still have complaints. The dedicated subreddit (opens in new tab) features reports of buffering issues and subtitles switching to Spanish, among others.
How to fix it
If you’ve been affected by these bugs, make sure you update the HBO Max app for Apple TV so you can get back to watching your favorite shows.
To update the app, you'll either wait for an automatic app update to download or manually update the application yourself, if automatic updates aren't enabled.
- Open Settings on Apple TV
- Select Apps
- Turn Automatic Updates on to enable automatic updates
- Or turn Automatic Updates off to get manual updates
- To manually update the HBO Max app, go to the App Store, search "HBO Max" and click Update