Apple TV is about to get much worse for Android TV users

TV remote control is seen with Apple TV+ logo displayed on a screen
(Image credit: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Apple TV has begun scaling back the extent of its services available to Android TV users, pointing them to other devices where they can watch its content. Specifically, any movie and TV show rentals and purchases, as well as Apple TV Plus subscriptions, are beginning to redirect Android TV watchers to a 'How to watch' page instead.

As reported by The Verge, any devices that run the Android TV OS, as well as streaming devices like Chromecast with Google TV, have been affected. Additionally, Apple TV Plus subscribers will no longer be able to use the streaming service on a device running Android TV.

Now, trying to access Apple TV content on Android TV instead redirects the viewer to a 'How to watch' screen with the following statement: "You can subscribe in the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, and other streaming devices." The statement ends by noting that users can still subscribe to Apple TV Plus via its official website.

Additionally, Apple seems to have taken extra measures to make its content harder to find on Android TV. The Apple TV app no longer features easily browsable sections for movies and shows, for instance, and titles you search for will instead display the aforementioned 'How to watch' prompt instead of being accessible to watch.

Analysis: what is Apple thinking?

At a surface level, Apple's removal of its entertainment content from Android TV-powered devices might seem baffling, even counter-intuitive. With several of its movies and shows distributed under the Apple TV brand having proven immensely successful (such as the award-winning comedy Ted Lasso), one might think the tech giant would want as many eyes on its content as humanly possible.

But then you remember that Apple and Google are arguably each others' closest competitors. From Apple's perspective, then, it may not be in its best interests to siphon revenue from Apple TV purchases to Google. That, or the company is making a concerted effort to push more users into the Apple ecosystem, as evidenced by the 'How to watch' page's mention of iPhone and iPad devices.

That's not to say Apple TV is completely battening down its hatches. You'll still be able to make use of Apple TV and the Apple TV Plus subscription service on Roku's streaming devices, and most smart TVs that run operating systems that aren't Android TV, such as Samsung's Tizen OS.

Still, it's not a change we're overly keen on, and it's sure to affect a not-insignificant number of Apple TV users. And what's arguably most frustrating about the situation is that Apple TV content was available to Android TV users in the first place. The sudden removal of said content may have stung a bit less if it wasn't so readily available there to start with. 

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.