HBO GO, the video streaming service which offers episodes of HBO series and their current run movies, has been strangely unavailable on the latest version of Google’s mobile OS. While Netflix made sure their application worked on Android 4.0+ in a timely manner, the HBO GO application has kept ICS users waiting for the last 7 months.
While HBO subscribers with ICS devices will no doubt be happy about this bit of news, it does highlight a serious problem within the Android ecosystem. Problems linked to Android’s fragmentation are often blown out of proportion, but when it directly effects users of Google’s flagship devices like the Galaxy Nexus, it’s easy to see how the vast array of different Android versions and devices can make using the platform more confusing for consumers. Imagine a user who upgraded his phone to a Galaxy Nexus, only to find he was unable to use the HBO GO app he was just previously enjoying on his two year old device.
As if to further confound users, this update manages to skip over ICS powered tablets entirely. So users of ICS powered phones will be able to stream the latest episode of Game of Thrones, but tablet owners (arguably where people are more likely to watch a full episode or movie) are left out in the cold. For them, winter is still coming.
The HBO GO App
If you subscribe to HBO through your cable provider (unfortunately, there is no way to access HBO GO without an active cable subscription), you can download the app from the Play Store and get access to not only the movies and documentaries in HBO’s current rotation, but every episode of their most popular series.
While this represents a considerable amount of content, there are some logistical issues with the service. Older series which proved very popular like The Larry Sanders Show and Six Feet Under don’t appear, and the rotation of HBO’s movies is so rapid that users have very little time to watch them before they have been replaced with a new group.
Still, there is no additional cost to use HBO GO for existing HBO subscribers, so it’s worth taking a look now that it’s device support has been expanded to cover the latest and greatest Android handsets.