HBO Max will finally be available to stream on Roku devices as early as this month, the company announced on Monday. Roku is rolling out new devices, new software and a new operating system — Roku OS 9.4. With it, users will be able to use compatible Roku devices to cast HBO Max from their phone or other device onto their TV wirelessly.
HBO Max and Roku have still not settled their prolonged negotiation to get a dedicated HBO Max app onto Roku devices, but a popular workaround is on the way. With the updated operating system, compatible Roku devices will have new apps available called Apple AirPlay 2 and Apple HomeKit, according to a report by Variety. These allow a user to cast media from an iPhone, iPad, Mac or other Apple device through their Roku and onto the big screen. This may be a way to appease customers who just want to watch the new streaming service, but are caught between these two media companies as they squabble.
The AirPlay 2 and HomeKit apps will be available on select Roku devices with 4K function, though so far it is not clear which devices exactly. However, they are confirmed to be available on the new device announced on Monday: the updated Roku Ultra. This media player is getting a facelift for the 2020 holiday season, giving users access to a range of new features both on-screen and off.
The new Roku Ultra reportedly comes with a headphone input on the remote, allowing users to keep the audio to themselves while streaming. It also has a lost-remote finder, increased wireless range and support for Dolby Atmos sound.
The new device will reportedly cost $100 when it is released sometime in October, along with Roku OS 9.4 and other updates. There is little doubt that the new casting apps will be a big selling point, though sadly only fans with an Apple device at their disposal will be able to use them. AirPlay 2 supports the iPhone, iPad and Mac, while HomeKit supports these as well as the Apple Watch and the HomePod. That way, users can simply tell Siri what they want to watch by voice.
Roku and HBO Max have been at odds since HBO Max launched back in May. Previously, Roku treated HBO as one of its "Roku Channels" — an interface for a TV network, as opposed to a dedicated interface for a subscription service like Netflix or Hulu. However, HBO Max encompasses much more than just HBO network content, and parent company WarnerMedia wanted it to be treated as such.
The two companies still have not reached an agreement, though progress is being made. In the meantime, fans will be able to get the AirPlay 2 and HomeKit apps on their compatible Roku device within a matter of weeks.