It’s been over a year since Apple TV first came to Google TV and later to the wider Android TV platform, but something has changed in recent weeks. As a result, the Apple TV app for Android/Google TV is no longer able to purchase content.
As Flat PanelsHD and 4K movie report via some Editors and other users, the Apple TV app was updated in the past two weeks to remove support for purchasing content through the app. The app’s overall functionality is intact, but users simply cannot purchase content through the Apple TV app on Android TV or Google TV devices. Apple supported this feature for almost a year in this app and still supports it on all other platforms except Amazon Fire TV.
When users navigate to content they don’t own, as shown below, a “How to Watch” button replaces the old “Buy/Rent” button. When pressed, the app then reads:
You can buy, rent, or subscribe in the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, and other streaming devices.
Fortunately, this decision to remove the ability to purchase content through the Apple TV app on Android TV/Google TV does not not assign your existing library or Apple TV+. You can still view this content as before.
Currently, there is no official explanation as to why Apple TV removed the ability to purchase content from Android/Google TV, but there is a good guess. Android TV and Google TV both require apps to route purchases through the Play Store, which in turn leads to a 30% cut in Google’s revenue.
By pushing its users to their iPhones and iPads to make purchases instead, Apple effectively circumvents this requirement. This is a strategy that many other media apps use on Android/Google TV. Of course, in Apple’s case, this poses a challenge, as it means those who don’t own any Apple products are effectively barred from purchasing content for an iTunes library.
Update: John Gruber reports in a post on Bold Fireball that Apple got an exemption from Google when launching this app that allowed content purchases without Play Store billing and discount from Google. That contract has apparently since expired, leading Apple to put its app in “reader-only” mode. Gruber adds:
Apple would rather not sell or rent content on these platforms than do so while paying Google/Amazon the commissions they charge.
Our colleagues from 9to5Mac note the irony of this, as Apple is currently defending itself against some antitrust lawsuits seeking to investigate Apple’s own 30% claim.
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