A few days after Warner Bros. Discovery sounded the death knell for HBO Max as a standalone streaming service, the platform received a major design overhaul across desktop, Android and iOS devices.
O update (opens in new tab)which began rolling out to the HBO Max app on Roku streaming sticks, PlayStation consoles, and other TV-adjacent devices in September 2021, brings improved navigation and a more refined visual style to versions of the streamer that have yet to benefit from the facelift.
Additionally, the HBO Max app on desktop, Android, and iOS devices will now feature a shuffle button, split-screen functionality, and support for both landscape and portrait orientation. SharePlay support has also been added for iPhone and iPad users in the US.
Given the intent of Warner Bros. Discovery of combining HBO Max and Discovery Plus into a new super streamer by 2023, the timing for a major design update for the former is a bit unfortunate. Additionally, the company cited “performance and customer issues” with HBO Max in its rationale for unifying the two services – so why bother fixing that flaw now?
Well, the answer is quite simple. As mentioned, WarnerMedia began rolling out this update for HBO Max on streaming TV devices in September 2021 – about six months before it merged with Discovery Inc. in April 2022.
The decision to revamp HBO Max, then, was made long before the formation of Warner Bros. Discovery (and thus before the decision to merge HBO Max and Discovery Plus). That is It’s a surprise that the update in question took so long to roll out to HBO Max on all devices, but the timing is, we suspect, purely coincidental. We reached out to HBO Max to clarify the matter.
Incidentally, WarnerMedia launched HBO Max in 2020 on the same clunky app architecture as the HBO Go and HBO Now apps, both of which disbanded later that year. An updated user interface (UI) suitable for today’s streaming era has been a long time coming.
The change also comes just weeks after Amazon began rolling out a similar design overhaul for its own streaming service, otherwise known as Prime Video. For more on the HBO Max and Discovery Plus merger, read on why we think Warner Bros. Discovery risks tarnishing HBO’s name. Alternatively, read the best HBO Max TV shows available to stream now.