Apple has abruptly removed the option to rent or purchase movies through the Apple TV app on Android TV devices. This also affects devices with Google TV, such as the 2020 Chromecast and recent TVs from Sony, TCL and others. As noted by FlatPanelsHD and 9to5Mac, the previous ability to rent or buy content directly has been removed. And The edge has found that Apple TV Plus subscriptions to the device are also no longer allowed.
Instead, there’s now a “how to watch” button that directs people to Apple products “or other streaming devices” for rentals, purchases, and Apple TV Plus subscriptions. These changes are not yet reflected on Apple’s Android TV support page, which still lists direct transactions as supported. Nvidia Shield owners first started noticing the loss of rentals and purchases a few days ago.
The top navigation panel of the app has removed the previous “Movies” and “TV Shows” (or “Store” in some cases) sections, leaving only Watch Now, Apple TV Plus, and Library. All the same movies and TV show listings are still there and searchable. But with every title you pick up, the only choices now are the ‘how to view’ and ‘add to Next’ button.
The Apple TV app began making its way to select Android TV devices in late 2020 and became generally available on the platform last June. Less than a year later, Apple is now withdrawing direct rentals, purchases, and subscriptions, turning the app into a portal for the content you’ve paid for elsewhere. “Not all devices support on-device transactions, so you may not be able to buy, rent, or subscribe to programs or channels directly,” Apple says on its website.
With the Android TV app, you can still access your existing library and any movies and shows you’ve bought/rented on another device. And that’s a good thing, since Apple often delivers higher bitrate streams than some competing entertainment services.
The edge has reached out to both Apple and Google for comment on the situation. It is suspected that this could be a case where Apple no longer wants to give Google a share of those individual in-app purchases. Platform costs are a point of contention that Apple itself is well acquainted with. The Apple TV app on Amazon’s Fire TV platform has never allowed the rental or purchase of movies for similar reasons. What annoyed people about this situation is that Apple originally provided all this functionality and has now seemingly changed its mind.
After this change, you will still have the option to rent or purchase through the Apple TV app on Roku devices, Samsung and LG smart TVs, Xbox and PlayStation game consoles, and of course Apple’s own products.