/ Technology

Why do my favourite smart TV apps no longer work?

Why should you have to buy a new TV or computer every few years just to keep using favourite apps and software? It’s a question I raised a year ago on Convo and it seems the industry still hasn’t got the message.

A number of you angrily complained on Which? Convo this week after finding that the YouTube app no longer worked on your TV. Tim Debagio said:

‘The convenience of YouTube on my TV was a major buying point. I bought the television for a reason and the manufacturer isn’t fulfilling its side of the bargain.’

Why has YouTube app stopped working?

Google has stopped supporting the YouTube app on devices that date from 2012 or earlier. This means it may not work on TVs that are just three years old. Those affected include some Sony and Panasonic smart TVs, PVRs and Blu-ray disc players. Apple devices that can’t run iOS 7 or higher (including the iPad 1 and early generation Apple TVs), and older Google TV boxes, including Sony ones, are also included.

You can still get YouTube on these devices in different ways, including through the web or mobile site. But the app is more convenient and many owners have complained to us about losing it. Nick wrote:

‘I am dismayed to see that the YouTube app has been stopped on my Panasonic PVR. This makes the Panasonic smart-TV offering even more pathetic than it was already. The only useful app left is BBC iPlayer (and Netflix for those prepared to pay).’

We challenged Sony, Panasonic and Google over the decision to drop the app. Google says the change is because it has updated the YouTube software to make way for new features. But why should that come at the expense of older products that are still in perfect working order?

Older products should matter, too

The advent of ‘smart’ products, heavily reliant on online services or software, has seen a worrying trend of older devices being left behind in the rush for what is flashy and new.

The products that have just lost the YouTube app are just three years old. The TVs could keep going for two or three years, maybe longer, and many owners are understandably disappointed. I’ll keep pushing manufacturers and app providers to do better in future.

There have been more than 200 comments to my original Convo post on the subject of disappearing apps and features on older products. Wavechange says:

‘Here’s a question that could be put to the major TV manufacturers. I would like to buy a smart TV that has features that will still work in ten years, a reasonable working life for a TV. Can I be sure that if I buy one of your TVs it will meet this requirement?’

Have you had problems with apps such as YouTube that have stopped working on your smart TV? Let us know your experience, including how old your TV is.

Comments
Martin AP says:
13 April 2019

I have a Sony KDL-50W656A and IT have had problems with YouTube since 1 week arter purchase, IT works sometimes but damn a lot of grief over the years, have contacted Sony but they dont give a sheise, I’m bying a clean monitor next and plug my Pc on 24/7!!!

Alan Hudson says:
29 August 2019

Hello, I have owned a crocus tv for three years, and last week YouTube stopped working.
I am disabled and can’t afford a new tv, can anyone suggest a way I can get YouTube back on my tv.
Thank you all in advance

Hi Alan – I expect that someone will be along to give advice soon, but in the meantime it would be worth looking through the four pages of this Conversation.

Hello Alan —Crocus TV ? its a new one on me ,probably “badge engineered” (supplied by a company who buys them from a manufacturer and changes the labelling.
Anyway without going through a lot of actions that will not restore You Tube as the company has not paid the app software designer to update the TV as they want to sell new TV,s (more profit ) you would be better off buying a Roku Fire Stick or the Amazon version .
These cost in the £50 region see-
https://www.businessinsider.com/best-streaming-stick-roku-vs-amazon-fire-2018-3?r=US&IR=T
This is a reputable American business website giving you details on both and their preference , many trackers but no malware.
I wish I could tell you to try this or that but without the real makers name I cannot help although there is a US company I don’t think its that one.

Alan Hakin says:
17 November 2019

I bought a Panasonic 49″ Smart TV from Sainsburys, Belfast approx 3 years ago. The Youtube app no longer functions.The Tv is wall mounted & it would be inconvenient to connect other devices to the set.
After viewing the previous reports on this issue, I am totally outraged at a so called top brand as Panasonic behaving in such manner

I agree with your comment Alan. It makes me wonder what ‘smart’ means.

You might only have to plug a small stick into a socket on the side frame of the TV to provide a wireless connection to a small hand-held device in order to select other functions.

One example of what John has suggested is the Roku Streaming Stick, though other brands are available.

Panasonic could tackle this problem – and so could other TV manufacturers – but planned obsolescence helps sell TVs.

Amit says:
6 December 2019

I bought Panasonic Viera 50 inch plasma in 2012. YT still works but it’s painful how many times it drops out of the video and just goes out of smart TV mode altogether. I tried to update the software of TV but it says I have latest software. It is disappointing

That doesn’t necessarily mean its the apps Amit ,if it was the apps you either can get them or they have stopped working.
Its more like a speed drop in your internet connection , try running a LAN cable instead of wi-fi .

Jamie says:
7 December 2019

Toshsiba 32w3454db led tv. Bought 18/7/2014. Youtube has stopped loading past the first logo screen. Toshiba are looking into it! I fear it it will be another obsolete smart tv!

Thats 5 years Jamie you are luckier than many , Toshiba apps are supplied by an app software engineer/s if he or them are not paid to update them then they develop problems when the media companies make changes to them .
Buy a Roku it will save a lot of tears.

Jamie says:
7 December 2019

Cheers Duncan. I feared the worst. Will investigate a Roku.

Jamie,

I’ll second Duncan’s suggestion of a Roku box.

Also, if you have a smart phone and particularly like YouTube, you might also like a Google Chromecast. Once set up, it allows local devices such as smartphones to send media such as YouTube / Netflix / Amazon (etc.) movies to be played on any HDMI fitted TV.

I wonder how many smart TVs are scrapped because they have lost functionality.

Perhaps in the future our TVs will simply be displays and all the control done wirelessly by our phone, tablet or laptop.

I had hoped we might have reached that state by now, Wavechange. What’s holding it back? The lack of some technical compatibility protocol perhaps.

I see a lot of secondhand TV’s in various shops, so I hope that the majority of folk don’t just bin TV’s that are otherwise working.

But I’ve also seen some cheap consumer grade TV’s that only last a few years anyway.

My c.2011 Sony TV lost its smart features several years ago, but my January 2017 Panasonic Blu-ray player still has working smart features, so I use it as a primary source for BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube.

Somehow, a spare Dell Desktop PC (a 10 year old Inspiron 545) seems to have also wormed its way under the telly, so I can use that to enable full internet access when required. I use a Logitect K400+ wireless keyboard and trackpad with the PC – I have found that to be a really useful accessory.

John – I don’t know the answer to your question, but smart TVs seem to be one of the best examples of planned obsolescence and – as with smartphones – there is plenty of commercial pressure to buy new.

I have a 2008 Sony TV that belonged to the previous occupants of my house. Not being a smart TV it has no apps to stop working. I control it wirelessly from a laptop and it will display anything on the laptop screen.

Perhaps people should be educated to restore their tv’s smartitude with a separate gizmo. As far as I know there is no reason to ditch a functional tv.

Perhaps our real problem is we replace a lot of stuff that is in good working order because something we are told is “better” comes along. We might not like that but if a lot of people are not so minded then it will be a difficult attitude to change.

Jamie says:
18 December 2019

Well I never Duncan. The old Toshiba has started playing youtube again even after Toshiba said it was no longer supported. Wow

Toshiba must have have had a change of heart and downloaded updated software Jamie or your TV reset itself with updated apps other than that I have no answer.

Economics first what public orientated media manufacturer just wants to produce basic monitors as their leading manufactured product ?— not many if any , it takes away their commercial image as a company and allows other third party companies to make big profits , no CEO/Board /shareholders would allow that,
Including media features like a tuner is the main raison etre of a “TV ” , monitors on the other hand have more electronic “interconnectivity ” with the latest display-ports and other small connections , they also have a much reduced “lag ” <10ms which gamers require as well as video buffs and reduced "tearing " etc .
Some compensation for "direct control " to reduce lag is starting to be built into modern TV,s ( gaming mode ) but apart from size a monitor offers many advantages for those wanting to add external components to allow for a good "TV" representation in a monitor.

The basic human problem is—the Public– convenience is "King " that's why CPCW makes £millions of profit, nice to think of a future of monitors but that requires a whole sea change in public attitude and what TV manufacturer is going to "self destruct " or commit -Hari-Kari ?

For the record my very old Philips 42 inch flat-screen -"ambi-light " (collectors item now ?) has been a monitor from day one ,my sat box covers just about all media using satellite and as its a triple tuner I also have a terrestrial TV aerial connected to it so zero switching required just run through both transmitted media automatically.