Last month, two major brands cut the cord on one of their video apps, meaning consumers will have to find new ways to get their media.
Both of these announcements were made in December of 2023, making it almost seem coordinated. Although, with so many streaming services and sources for digital media, entertainment providers are constantly trying to streamline how content is acquired on their devices. Changes like these are no longer monumental, and for some, are hardly noticeable. But for those who used these apps from Apple and Google, it may come as a surprise to learn that they're being discontinued.
The first cut came from Apple, when they released version 17.2 for the Apple TV 4K. Also available on all models of Apple TV HD dating back to 2015, the update included a variety of interface changes and feature updates that should enhance the user experience. Namely, the update added a sidebar navigation system where users can find both first-party and third-party streaming apps to choose from, as well as their video library. Other features include a redesigned control centre, Adaptive Audio for AirPods users, as well as enhance dialogue options for the HomePod. Users can also now start FaceTime calls directly from the Apple TV, using their iPad or iPhone as the webcam with the new Continuity Camera feature.
For the icing on the cake, Apple added the ability to connect your Siri Remote to the Find My app on your iPhone. We all know how needed this feature was, as most of us can't even count how many times we've almost pulled our hair out searching for the remote between the couch cushions -- only to find that the dog was, for some reason, snuggling with it in his bed. Doesn't seem very comfortable, but he still does it every time.
On a darker note, this update also completely erased one of Apple's iconic video services: the iTunes Movies and TV store. Although it has been the brand's main hub for renting and buying video content since 2008, the app has now been fully absorbed into the Apple TV app.
If that loss wasn't enough, consumers were hit again merely days later when Google announced the end of Google Play Movies. The Play Movies app was slowly discontinued over the course of December, and as of January 2024, the app is no longer accessible.
As part of the never-ending attempt to streamline streaming and condense visual media sources, Google is saying goodbye to the Google TV app and Google Play Movies. Instead, they're relying solely on YouTube, which already served the role of a video library for purchased content. Now users will have to navigate to YouTube for all rented and purchased content through web browsers and mobile devices. Their content can be easily found in the "your library" tab within the sidebar on the YouTube app.
For those using Android TV, new content can be purchased (as usual) using the Android TV shop, accessible from the home screen by navigating to the shop tab. Here users can also access all of their previously purchased movies and shows.
Although it can be frustrating to have our entertainment services constantly changing things up, these probably won't be huge adjustments for most of us. By now, we're used to adapting our entertainment libraries every time we get a new device or update. We certainly expect more changes like this to come in the future from both of these brands, so don't get too attached to the way things are now.