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The one where HBO Max learns why you use native assets instead of rolling your own

HBO Max Logo
HBO Max Logo (Image credit: WarnerMedia)

HBO Max had to rush out a fix for its Apple TV app this week because it broke remote controls in a version released before the weekend. All because it wanted to use its own video player.

Backing up a bit, you've surely seen the palaver this caused.

Being in the UK, I don't have access to HBO Max, so I'll have to take The Internet's word for it when I say that people were upset. Very upset, as it turned out because the HBO Max wouldn't work with the Siri Remote on their Apple TV – including the new Apple TV 4K. Pausing content, fast-forwarding it, rewinding it. Generally, interacting with it was a problem. As in, it didn't work.

It turned out that the reason for all this was HBO Max's new, custom, in-house, very-much-not-Apple's video player. Something was borked if you'll pardon the expression. And it needed fixing.

Fair play to the iOS engineers at HBO because they managed to get the update out pretty quickly, no doubt assisted by Apple's App Store Review team expediting it. The update is here, it works, and everyone's happy.

Apple Tv 4k Review

Apple Tv 4k Review (Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

Except, none of this should have happened in the first place. HBO Max shouldn't have been messing around with the video player in the first place because it worked just fine. Other apps use it without issue. The Siri Remote works with it!

Someone inside HBO will know what went down here, and I'm sure there will have been a reason to switch to an in-house video player beyond "it looks cool." But was it worth having to pull it after a few days because of this mess? Just as importantly, how did that get through testing? It's a video playback app that won't play the video back properly!

The moral of today's story? Maybe just use the native video player in the future, everyone? In fact, just use native everything until told otherwise. It's for the best.

Now that farce is done and dusted, be sure to check out the best Apple TV deals – especially if you're using an old Apple TV HD.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.