/ 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
Guest
Virendra says:
10 May 2017

Recently (May 2017), You Tube app stopped working in my LG TV purachased in Oct 2012.

Guest

Count yourself lucky Virendra your app has lasted longer on your LG TV than Samsung apps last( 2/3 years ) going by the posts on Which and many other websites they must pay the app designers more money to keep them up to date longer . I have commented many times on this and I am sure there are some who dont believe me so for them and those looking for an intelligent explanation that exactly coincides with what I have been saying look no further than this American website where the “Standard ” explanation is published for all to read (and weep ) : https://www.techdirt.com/blog/innovation/articles/20120221/03352017827/smart-tvs-not-such-smart-idea-shtml . So never think -oh ! the makers “forgot ” or some excuse—its deliberate.

Guest
Bill says:
12 May 2017

I have the 42LM6700 and when I pressed cast to TV on my phone the message came up that youtube support will end soon. I’m not buying a new TV as this one is still perfect. I suppose I could buy a google chrome USB adapter thing or change to vidme etc as youtube is going down the gurgler anyway…. Still, not happy as this TV will last quite another few years. Then there’s always HDMI through my laptop or other PC source…….. The list is not exhaustive

Guest

Thanks for the info Bill (I dont have a “smart” TV ) , you actually got told your app was coming to an end ?? wow ! What they are really saying is- your TV is “out of date ” buy another , talk about a “captive audience ” the makers must have a good advertising department , no flies on them . My very old Philips 42 inch LCD flat screen is still going strong and I will never upgrade to a “smart TV ” which when connected to the web soaks up your viewing figures , what you watch, how long you watch, then emails you third party junk mail and, for the record, can be hacked.

Guest
Stuart says:
9 November 2017

Can not get live stream on my Sony tv4k 65 inch what is the problem with it please

Guest

Stuart as there is a large range of models can you supply the additional model number please, it isn’t just “TV4K” for example -KDL-55 etc or X something , something . It should be on your instruction book or at the back of your TV ?

Guest
bishbut says:
10 November 2017

All conned again by the manufactures to buy a smart TV which they stop supporting things on it to make you buy another with up to date things .Gimmicks are used everywhere to get you to spend on new or unnecessary things you probably not use after trying them once Is not the £1000 Apple phone the latest one

Guest
keith says:
28 June 2017

hi my 60 inch lg smart tv only had it 4 years everything worked fine loved my music on youtube its all i lived for you could play anything you liked on it, youtube disappeared yesterday absolutely gutted is there any way round it to get it back

Guest

Buy a Roku box Keith they arent dear , just make sure you buy it from a British company/website as it has to be a UK version not a US version. Sorry I would be amazed if you got your apps updated on a 4 year old “smart ” TV they wont pay the software designers to update them a they want you to buy a new TV.

Guest

As Duncan said, get a nice cheap Roku box – or equivalent.

My Sky NowTV Roku box is ideal for free access to both YouTube and BBC iPlayer. I think it cost either £10 or £15 at most. It also gives me the option of subscribing to Sky on-demand services, but my choice is not to take up that option.

Full Android TV boxes are also available, for example the Greatever OTT HiBox 4K that I now have cost me £10 secondhand. It is somewhat underpowered in terms of speed, so I wouldn’t rate it as being worth very much more than that, but it does give much greater functionality than my basic Roku box.

Guest
n d says:
12 July 2017

Tubio app on your mobile device to cast to LG SmartTV when TV’s “SmartShare” (tv app) is enabled. it’s better than now defunct (June 2017) Youtube App.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aesoftware.tubio
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tubio-cast-web-videos-to-tv-chromecast-roku/id934339109?mt=8

Guest
AW says:
18 July 2017

Recently (June 2017), You Tube app stopped working in my LG TV which I’ve bought new in May 2013.
So I’ve tried to use the TV’s browser to access Youtube. The browser works in principle. But when trying to run Youtube with the TV’s browser it says the browser is too old.
And this even though I’ve run a SmartTV update last week.
Also, because Video Downloadhelper stopped working some time ago for most videos, I have no more way to watch youtube videos on my TV.
I hate it.

Guest

AW get a Roku box they are cheap enough , Your TV update doesn’t cover your app updates as they are separate and only last 2 years or so as the TV manufacturers wont pay the app designers to update them as they want you to buy a new TV . There are various reasons for a website saying- your browser is out of date usually for protection reasons but can be because they want to show you third party stuff that they get payed for . Thats why I have many browsers some American websites block me because I have disabled javascipt etc and they want to know who you are but the opposite can occur , one British newspaper which I block the advents from + pictures blocks a normal browser unless you click on the third party adverts so they can make money , I just use a browser that blocks their blocker and I can read the news instead of a band blocking half of it until I click on a third party (dangerous ) .

Guest
Saadya says:
14 October 2017

My Phillips Smart TV is a 2015 manufactured TV. Youtube app stopped playing on it one day ago. I started using the Youtube app a year ago. Not sure if this newer model also comes with this problem…I can’t afford Cable and refuse to pay for junk shown on it, and I only used Youtube app on my TV for its convenience and listened to my favorite songs and music on it. It stinks if the app won’t work anymore.

Guest

Get a Roku box Saadya, you aren’t going to get your apps back from the manufacturer.

Guest
bishbut says:
14 October 2017

A computer with a HDMI port , A HDMI cable, a HDMI port on your television and then any thing that on your computer screen appears on your TV Even some small tablets have a HDMI port of micro or mini size My grandson puts YOU TUBE on a 8″ tablet but watches it on my television

Guest

…amongst other devices, my TV now has a nice cheap s/h Dell Inspiron 545 quad core desktop PC hanging off it. It’s bulkier than a Roku box though…

Guest

I like that Derek ! Quad-core too beats my old two-core Dell I have as a spare.

Guest
Jack says:
3 December 2017

I have a Panasonic 42 plasma Viera that cost me £1150 back in 2011. It’s barely used and still functions perfectly apart from virtually none of the smart apps appear as they’ve been discontinued!
I will either just keep it plugged into the PS3 which thankfully still works, or buy a google chromecast.
It’s all about getting people to ditch perfectly functioning products and buy new ones, which destroys our planet in the process!

Guest

Quite right Jack glad to see you aren’t plugged into the”rat-race ” but into a box that extends the life of your old TV . Watch out for the “thought police ” trying to talk you into replacing it , I still have my very old 42 inch Philips LCD TV with its ancient “Ambilight ” (TM ) surround lighting I see zero reason for replacing it , so much for LCD “dimming ” when very old. Good man Jack keep the “fighting spirit ” up !

Guest
Andrea small says:
19 February 2018

I have a Panasonic and now Youtube no longer works even though the TV is fine. I do not have the funds to buy a new TV and why would I when the one I have works in every other respect. I am very very disappointed and frankly I would think more about how long the software will last and less about the brand next time.

Guest

Andrea, you add YouTube to any TV by buying a nice cheap Roku box (or similar) as an add-on.

In my case I now do this via my Panasonic DVD player, which offers both YouTube and Netflix.

Guest

Buy a Roku box Andrea its not too dear. Why do I recommend it ? because it is better built and is more reliable than some of the cheaper ones by other companies. I am afraid most TV manufacturers only put a limited time on their TV,s as regards apps , they pay the software designers a set price for that particular model , if any changes are made they will not pay the app designers to modify their software because they want you to buy the latest model TV . If you get three years or more out of the apps you will be lucky most fail from 2-3 years . Another problem is if you buy a TV cheap because it is near the end of its design life then you might find the apps fail even earlier. If you want the longest life buy when a new model FIRST hits the market.

Guest

If we can assume that no-one is going to tackle the TV industry over making and selling TVs that lose their smart features perhaps we could ask Which? to test the Roku and similar devices.

Guest

A good idea Wavechange I got my info direct from websites that performed extensive tech tests on a variety of makes.

Guest

I’m not sure TVs as such will be around for that much longer, frankly. I can see them becoming simply displays, to which we’ll attach whatever boxes we want.

Guest

Perhaps Which? should mention the availability of these boxes each time they review smart TVs. I recall when you started mentioning the Roku box and have mentioned them to people with smart TV problems.

Why do we tolerate companies producing and selling TVs that may lose their functionality after a couple of years? Much has been written about the need for washing machines that are reliable and repairable, but I think it would be easier to focus on the problem with smart TVs.

Ian – Using a screen in the same way that we have used computer monitors for years is the obvious solution, but I suspect that this could impact on sales revenue. We can but hope.

Guest
may says:
12 April 2018

I bought a sony bravia tv in January 2017. 2 weeks ago youtube stopped working. why, andwhat can I do about it.

Guest

To give you a more accurate reply could you tell me the model number of the Sony Bravia TV May ? The reason I am asking is that even though you bought it a year ago the model itself could be older and in a model series they dont update apps to the latest version . This is a big problem with Sony their smart TV apps dont last long according to You Tube .

Guest

Rightmove has been broken for a couple of years – they must’ve updated the engine on their website which didn’t percolater through to the TV front ends.

Generically, who is responsible for updating Apps on TVs.. is it TV manufacturers or App sponsors? I’d have thought the latter.

Guest

I checked into this Roger long ago and I have replied several times on it . The manufacturers wont pay for the app software designers to update their apps reasoning that “old ” in their eyes is only a few years old and all they are concerned about is punting new models and profit . I even quoted the manufacturers response at the time in answer to many complaints . Would you work for nothing ? -well neither will the app designers -no pay-no show.

Guest

Thanks Duncan. So, if I read you right, (for one example) EITHER Rightmove provided an SDK to TV manufacturers’ App designers which they have failed to continue to support OR the App designer reverse-engineered the (then) website.

If the former, then the owner of the domain (in this instance Rightmove) should sort it out as having been silly, and if the latter, the TV company should do so for having been cheapskates in the first place and not sought an SDK from the owner of the domain. And whichever it is, I think there is a possible campaign for the consumer somewhere in there…

Guest

If you check back I am sure at least one convo was published on this subject in Which Convo Roger .