Starting today, customers around the world can access the Amazon
Prime Video app on Apple TV to stream award-winning and critically
acclaimed titles including Prime Original Series and Movies. Also
starting this week, the Apple TV app — a unified place for
iPhone, iPad and Apple TV users to discover and start watching the
best shows and movies — supports live sports, giving fans in the
US a simple and seamless way to keep track of their favorite teams
and games in real time. Participating sports apps in the Apple TV
app include ESPN and the NBA, developed in partnership between the
NBA and Turner Sports, with more to be added soon. Starting
tomorrow, Prime members in the US can enjoy Thursday Night
Football on the Apple TV app for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.
I’ve heard there is indeed a good story behind this delay. I don’t know the story, or even what the story is about (although my guess would be revenue-sharing politics, not software) — I’ve just heard that there’s a good story.
Update: Now that I’ve had a chance to install and try the app on my Apple TV 4K, I’m seriously wondering if the holdup was technical, not political. (Or technical in addition to political.) Justin Williams:
I’m half convinced that Apple granted Amazon an entitlement to
access a tvOS web view to get Prime Video on the Apple TV. It
looks and behaves nearly identical to the HTML5 / Smart TV app
that is deployed everywhere.
I have zero evidence of this. Just my dumb conspiracy theory.
I don’t know if it’s a webview, but if it is, that would have required a special entitlement from Apple because the tvOS SDK does not have a webview. Netflix, HBO, and Hulu all have Apple TV UIs that seem a bit alien, eschewing tvOS standard UI elements for custom branded UI elements. But this Prime Video app takes it to a new level. The UI doesn’t even play sound as you move the selection around — I’ve never seen that in an Apple TV app. The Prime Video app for Apple TV doesn’t just look alien, it feels and sounds alien too. I think it’s a web app. And if it’s not, Amazon’s engineers went to extraordinary lengths to make UIKit on tvOS look and feel like a web app.
Update 2: Steven Troughton-Smith poked around the IPA:
TL;DR it’s no wonder Amazon took so long in porting their app to
tvOS; it’s a giant, [presumably] in-house web-based multi-headed
hydra designed for a hundred different devices and consoles that
probably needed a new UI glue layer for tvOS (but probably doesn’t
I find it hard to believe that getting this custom cross-platform monstrosity running atop tvOS was less work (and would be easier to maintain) than just writing a goddamn native tvOS app. I can see why Amazon doesn’t want to create a new app from scratch for every single “smart TV” platform, but Apple TV is a big market.
Prime Video is, without question, the worst Apple TV app I have on my Apple TV (taking the crown from Hulu).
★ Wednesday, 6 December 2017