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HBO Max Updates Apple TV App to Fix Serious Glitches: ‘We Missed the Mark’

HBO Max
WarnerMedia

WarnerMedia appears to have fixed major bugs with the HBO Max app for Apple TV devices that had left the service a frustrating, barely usable mess for several days — with problems that included pause, rewind and fast-forward controls not working correctly.

In a message late Tuesday night, HBO Max’s customer help account wrote, “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,” it said. “Ensuring HBO Max viewers have a quality experience is our top priority and we missed the mark here. Thank you for your patience.”

The latest update to HBO Max, version 50.30.2.261, goes back to using Apple’s own native video player — whereas a June 2 release had introduced a proprietary video player developed by WarnerMedia. Ironically, WarnerMedia had promised that version would provide a “smoother streaming experience” and “focus[ed] on bug fixes.”

Andy Forssell, EVP and general manager of HBO Max, has been issuing mea culpas online to people complaining about the service’s technical snafus on Apple TV set-tops — and vowing to rectify the problems.

“Native player is on its way back, in short order,” Forssell tweeted Tuesday afternoon in reply to one disgruntled user. “No excuses from us. Good intentions, bad execution. We’ll learn from it.”

In addition to the playback-control glitches, last week’s HBO Max release for tvOS introduced other errors, as noted by ScreenTimes, a publication dedicated to Apple TV. Those included problems displaying subtitles; rendering most Siri commands inoperable; forcing SDR video into HDR (high dynamic range), resulting in weird colors and contrast errors; and the inability to dismiss the “next episode” pop-up window at the end of an episode.

So — how did the faulty HBO Max app make it through the media giant’s quality-assurance testing processes?

As Forssell acknowledged Monday in an exchange on Twitter, “That’s the zillion dollar question. First priority is to deliver for users in addressing the issues, but in parallel we will also dive deep into that question.”