Apple TV App for Android TV Drops All In-app Purchases

Posted on March 21, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Apple, Music + Videos, Google TV with 24 Comments

The Apple TV app for Android TV and Google TV no longer supports in-app purchases. This means that users can no longer use the app to buy or rent movies or TV shows, or subscribe to the company’s Apple TV+ streaming service.

As reported by FlatpanelsHD, the app’s latest update has replaced the buy and rent options on movie pages with a “How to watch button.” When clicked the button opens a page with a message saying that “You can buy, rent or subscribe in the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, and other streaming devices.”

It’s still possible to watch any purchased content on the app or access Apple TV+ with an existing subscription. But overall, the Android TV/Google TV app is now in the same state as the Apple TV app on Amazon’s Fire TV platform, which has never supported movie purchases and rentals.

According to Apple expert John Gruber, the reason behind all this is Apple and Google failing to reach a revenue-sharing agreement on in-app payment commissions. Because yes, Google was taking a cut on all in-app purchases made in the Apple TV app.

“Until this update, Apple had been running on an exemption not to use Google’s IAP. The exemption expired, so Apple TV on Android TV is now “reader only”. Apple TV on Amazon’s Fire platform has long been “reader only” as well for the same reason: Apple would rather not sell or rent any content at all on these platforms than do so while paying Google/Amazon the commissions they demand,” Gruber claimed.

In recent years, we’ve seen many TV manufacturers such as Sony, Philips, or TCL embrace Android TV as their Smart TV platform. Android TV is also what powers the Nvidia Shield, one of the most popular and versatile Android TV-based digital media players on the market.

While the Apple TV app is now slightly crippled on Android TV/Google TV, the app still remains attractive thanks to its large collection of movies and TV shows in 4K/HDR/Dolby Vision. If you use Android TV for entertainment purposes though, you’ll now need to buy or rent that Apple TV content elsewhere.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Apple TV App for Android TV Drops All In-app Purchases”

  1. harmjr

    Apple: We dont want to pay your stinking fees!!!

    Apple to Epic: Pay our stinking fees!!!

    • sglewis

      Uhh, exactly. Apple and Google can charge whatever fees they want. On the other end they can try to pay as little as they want. And when those two competing business objectives fail, you can choose to leave that marketplace.

      Or you can be an Epic and sue sue sue.

      Google sells TV shows and movies. I haven’t seen their Apple TV app with in app purchasing.

  2. pecosbob04

    Not where this statement belongs but I can't seem to post in the forums correctly so:

    Wasn't there an Apple Studio Display article by Mr. Giret posted on the main page? It seems to have disappeared.

    • Laurent Giret

      Hello, I wrote two posts about the Apple studio display ?
  3. Donte

    Remember part of every dollar spent on Apple products and services helps ensure the continued violation of human rights by the CCP.

  4. Daekar

    Now, we just need folks to make all thei content available on their websites instead of requiring an app, and we'll be most of the way there. The idea of needing an application installed to watch video in this day and age is ridiculous.

    • Jogy

      Most apps allow downloading video content for offline watching.

      Something you definitely want to do when you have limited connectivity, like on a plane, or a slow network, or too expensive data plan.

    • Stabitha.Christie

      Apple, Amazon, Disney and Netflix all do this... I haven't looked at every streaming service but it seems pretty common.

  5. red.radar

    While the irony is rich, I don’t think this is really that big of a deal.

    The market is quickly becoming use to the idea of going direct to a Web site to sign up for services.

  6. Sykeward

    Also in Gruber's post was this interesting observation, which goes to the heart of many developer complaints about Apple:

    "What’s hypocritical is Apple offering a “How to Watch” button, with a simple clear explanation of how you can buy or rent new content to watch on Android TV by making the purchase on a different device. That’s not allowed on Apple’s own platforms — Apple has a rule against explaining the rules."

    • Donte

      Which is incredible for him to say because there is NO BIGGER fanboy than that guy.

      • Stabitha.Christie

        He is certainly an Apple fan and owns that but he has also never had any issue on being a vocal critic when he disagrees with Apple. He has been critical of Apple on this particular issue for years now so it isn't particularly incredible or even surprising that he would say something.

    • lvthunder

      I thought the rule was you couldn't link to it.

      • Sykeward

        The no-links rule is broader than just links. During the Epic trial, it came up that Apple routinely cited App Store rule 3.1.1 (the one that bans buttons, links, and other “call to action” text that references payment/subscription options outside the app) to prevent developers from using text within their apps to explain store restrictions. That was bad enough that the judge issued a permanent injunction against it specifically, stating that Apple could not prevent developers from “communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers… within the app.“

        Before that ruling, the most any app showed was the Netflix app which said “Members that subscribe to Netflix can watch here in the app”, and even that came close to running afoul of Apple’s ban on “calls to action” since it implied a way of subscribing to Netflix outside of the app itself.

  7. lvthunder

    So Apple is just playing by the rules they expect everyone else to play by. OK.

    • nbplopes

      Well, that is the message meant by Apple ... hiding the fact that it pays no fees in these contexts!!!!!! So its just Apple masquerading the act ... and controlling the narrative. A bit like ... "see if I can do It so can anyone else" ... but that is not the issue.

    • darkgrayknight

      The problem would not be so bad if it didn't screw over customers on all sides. So now users who may have been interested in some of Apple TV's content but did not have Apple products, won't be buying anything from the Apple TV app. This just continues the silos of needing devices from specific providers to use their services. Imagine if HBO didn't allow purchasing of their streaming service except from their own device.

      In-app purchases should be left in the app and not be tied to the store that the app was purchased from. If you buy a book from Barns & Noble, does B&N get a cut if you purchase something the author mentions in the book directly from the source? No, and they shouldn't get a cut, they already got their cut on the book itself. Same for software applications in virtual stores.

      • lvthunder

        Then you wouldn't be able to allow free apps in the store.

        • nbplopes

          There are no free apps in the App Store apart from the ones from Apple.

        • Jogy

          Why not?

          Apple charges the developers yearly for the privilege of having their apps in the store. That charge could be enough to cover the Apple's costs of keeping those apps in the store.

  8. crunchyfrog

    Apple TV content has been good but I barely even think about it because I use non-Apple streaming devices so the loss is for Apple not playing by some of the rules they created for other content providers and developers.

    If I need to rent a movie, I often head to VUDU or some of the other services where you can get movies streamed.