HBO Max app on Apple TV went haywire — here's what happened and how to fix it

HBO Max app Apple TV
(Image credit: HBO Max/Tom's Guide)

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 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.” 

We tested this out on our end, and found mixed results. Our own streaming editor Henry T. Casey 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 “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 “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 “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:

“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 the scrubbing issues on iOS, which should also have been resolved with the update.

As The Verge points out, the update fixed the worst of the problems, but HBO Max users still have complaints. The dedicated subreddit 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. 

  1. Open Settings on Apple TV
  2. Select Apps
  3. Turn Automatic Updates on to enable automatic updates
  4. Or turn Automatic Updates off to get manual updates
  5. To manually update the HBO Max app, go to the App Store, search "HBO Max" and click Update
Shabana Arif

Shabana is T3's News Editor covering tech and gaming, and has been writing about video games for almost a decade (and playing them since forever). As well as contributing to Tom's Guide, she's had bylines at major gaming sites during her freelance career before settling down at T3, and has podcasts, streaming, and video content under her belt to boot. Outside of work, she also plays video games and should really think about expanding her hobbies.