UPDATE: After several hours of considering this app, I’ve committed to leaving it behind. Gone are the halcyon HBO days; Max is the final nail in that sad coffin.
Max, in its current form, appears to be just a reskinned HBO Max app—new colors, the same big header images, and a sidebar navigation (but with the addition of an inexplicable top menu too). It seems like they could have kept the old app and just changed the name. Why this needed a completely separate app is beyond me. Let’s just call it corporate stupidity.
That’s where the similarities stop. The most egregious issue is the return of the custom video player that no one was asking for. Doing this means Max has dropped all support for the standard tvOS interface and features. “Regression” is the only word for this. This means Max doesn’t currently offer:
- Jog wheel seeking
- HDR and frame rate matching
- Using Siri to toggle audio and subtitles
This is breaking long-held and valued conventions, all for the benefit of tracking every single second of watching time and every single choice made within the app. Make no mistake, these changes have been done so that WBD can architect profiles of its users and, likely, sell that information to advertisers. In a less nefarious way, it’ll also likely be used to inform future content spending and acquisitions.
This is a 1.0 release (even though it didn’t need to be), so I’m interested to see how it’ll evolve; HBO Max wasn’t particularly great when it was first released either. However, if they’re not going to learn from past mistakes, then I don’t have to give them any more attention and money.
We’re all pawns in the war between streaming giants. The best way to stay clean is to stay out of the skirmish.