/ 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!!!

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.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

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

This comment was removed at the request of the user

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!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

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

This comment was removed at the request of the user

No they could already do that by now if they wanted to, but why bother when they are forcing the public to scrap their tv’s and have to go out and purchase new ones it’s absolutely disgusting but they are getting super rich by ripping us all off.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Mark T says:
4 February 2020

I bought my Vizio Smart TV on Black Friday 2018 I started having trouble trying to access YouTube and other apps about a week before Black Friday 2019.
My Vizio Smart TV didn’t even make a year before it started giving me trouble not being able to access the apps.
Thank you VIZIO!!
The next Smart TV I buy I will definitely talk to the salesman about this problem.

Scott says:
10 May 2020

Hi.

Any help my Luxor Tv YouTube app has stopped working? Has what looks like to have frozen

Any help Tv 3 years old

I believe Luxor is a Vestel brand, have you tried contacting the manufacturer’s UK office, see:-http://vestel.co.uk/en/contact/

Paul Hart says:
12 May 2020

I have a 3 year old digihome ‘smart’ tv. All apps work fine except YouTube. It worked fine now the logo screen judt hangs.

It wont allow casting from my mobile for YouTube- though I can cast Netflix no problem.

I cant find any support for digihome or answers on the net.

Any suggestions gratefully received

Thanks

I believe Digihome are made by Vestel. Have you tried contacting their UK office, see:-http://vestel.co.uk/en/contact/

Also, if you have access to Android on other devices, this remote control app might help:-https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.digihome.smartcenter&hl=en_GB

I have a finlux branded smart tv, i thought finlux just made fridge freezers lol. Anyway it’s only just gone 2 years old and problems started with it just after a year old. Netflix i can still get and use but it must take easily a few mins to load up. Youtube the same a few mins but won’t get past the youtube logo so i now have to watch it via my laptop. Very disappointed it shouldn’t really matter what brand your tv is they should last longer than just a year old.

Hi Chris – Finlux is a long established TV brand but has belonged to various companies over the years.

It does not look as if anyone is going to take up the problem of TVs losing functionality. Unless anyone knows different, this seems to affect all brands.

Since you can see what you want on your laptop the solution could be to connect the laptop (by cable or wirelessly) to the TV. That works fine for me.

My girlfriend’s daughter just recieved a new Samsung smart TV as a birthday present. Windows 10 can see this as a smart display and hence offers to connect wirelessly.

I wonder if that function will disappear over time, in the way that other smart TV functions often do?

For other TV’s and older smart TV’s, simple plug in devices work nicely to add or restore smart functions. We’ve used a couple of ChromeCasts (but other makes are available).

Given that there is now proably little difference in concept between a smart TV and a tablet PC, it seems wromg that the former might fade to grey after 2 years while the latter will recieve software updates for many years.

Ian Priddis says:
3 July 2020

Polaroid 50 inch , (FROM ASDA) 3/5 years old. Youtube app freezes cant use web as it takes it back to the app

Very Poor Polaroid / Google GET IT SORTED

Julie Floyd says:
1 August 2020

Hi there I have a 42 inch tv I bought from sainsburys about 3 years ago know the YouTube isn’t working which used to so why is all the apps on maybe tv not work anymore I paid for a tv with £260 and it’s stopped

Hi Julie, unfortunately a service life of only three years seems to be par for the course with the apps on so called smart tvs.

Given that TV manufacturers and retailers do not seem interested in remedying this, the best fix seems to be the purchase of a suitable add on a device. As a Finnegan Fox fan, a Google Chrome cast works great for me, while other devices will suit other users demands.

Peter says:
3 September 2020

Folks, take this advice:
Avoid Philips, if you want to use YouTube with your even newest device. (Or better avoid Philips at all.)
I got one bought last week and guess what !?!? YouTube does start, does play, but stops after about a minute. No SW updates available.
This is just enough for selling the crap, but you find out, that you were cheated at home.
Another (my) Philips crap TV was deliberately destroyed by planned HW failure – just 3 months after the warranty expired.
These guys apparently do NOT care about the future, they just want to make tons of quick money.

Therefore: AVOID PHILIPS – Ignore, Boykot – perhaps they will open their eyes. And if not, let this be a warning sign for other manufacturers.

Peter says:
3 September 2020

And yes, the electronics dealers and repair shops confirm this is exactly the situation and my case in not unique by any means…

Peter – It is usually best to buy a product that is a Which? Best Buy. There is often a good choice across the price range.

A good start, I agree, but you also need to do your own research and checks. One of my sons bought a pram recently and examined, and pushed, a number before deciding. One of the Which? best buys wobbled on a soft surface – such as grass – and shook the (simulated) baby side to side. A no no. So you wonder if all aspects are properly tested. They also were looking at a Best Buy washing machine until the shop assistant demonstrated how much the door flexed when open, not inspiring confidence in its longevity. As an engineer he opted for a Bosch with a robust metal hinge.

Comparative testing is not easy once you have dealt with the standards compliance bit; much is then subjective. Perhaps useful additional information could be gleaned from Connect Members rather than relying on limited testers? Features from preceding products can give an insight into newer offerings.

Agreed. I have often avoided a Best Buy because I wanted something better. Sometimes the price compromises the evaluation of performance.

Whether by luck or caution I don’t know, but I have very rarely bought a dud or anything that has failed prematurely. The major exception is the Sony smart TV which delivers good pictures but had poor sound so we had to buy a soundbar. We have never used the smart features and they are probably defunct by now. For our limited use it is adequate and satisfactory.

Peter – Can you provide a link with evidence of a hardware problem with Philips TVs? If your TV is only a week old you should be able to return it for a refund.

Over the years I have usually been satisfied with Philips products. My Philips microwave oven is 30 years old and is in daily use.

These days, I think a lot of the brand names that we all used to trust are just badges that get tacked onto cheap and nasty TV’s. When I used to subscribe to Which, I got the impression that there were only four remaining TV brands that gave consistently good quality. Hence I now limit myself to those bands when buying new.

Unfortunately there seems to be no brand of TV that can be relied on to retain its smart features. It can often be difficult to demonstrate planned obsolescence but here we have a very obvious example.

In the same way that we can improve the poor sound quality of modern flat-screen TVs by using an external soundbar or amplifier/speakers there are ways of recovering smart features, as discussed earlier in this Conversation.

In the case of a smartphone the best way of maximising the length of time it is supported is to buy a phone when a model is released rather than a couple of years later. Maybe Derek will know if the same applies to smart TVs.

Caretaker46 says:
12 September 2020

My Samsung tv has lot of apps from YouTube and IPTV.Samusng told me it is Google or YouTube which does not support the software an I paid £1800 pounds and their smart tv is just run by Samsung and Samsung did not want to compensate with £20 Amazon stick,so I will not buy Samsung when we buy thier product to support them and when my tv was only 1 year old and they did not support me. I will buy another brand may be back to Sony and look for Android app, where I was told the app won’t dissapear.

I suggest you look through the four pages of this Convo and you will see that buying a Sony TV or other brand may not solve the problem. Until action is taken to force the manufacturers to support their products for a sensible length of time. There are inexpensive solutions that should allow you to restore the features of your Samsung TV.

While it is, in principle, wrong that tvs are advertised with features that become defunct early in the life of the tv, how much does it matter in practice if “an inexpensive solution” is available?

I don’t have a smart tv, so have no direct experience on which to base an informed comment, but don’t really feel the need for one with those extra features when I can use my iPad (and Apple tv if I need to on my excellent old Pioneer plasma tv). That use is, in fact, very rare as I have other activities to occupy my time.

I don’t suppose you can buy a dumb tv any longer? Perhaps Which? should label all tv brands that become unsupported fairly quickly as “don’t buys” if you want to make use of apps. Campaign with BEUC to require minimum periods for which declared apps will be supported from when the model is last sold. Just as we should require mobile phones to be supported for an acceptable time.