/ 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
Gerard Phelan says:
28 May 2015

Instead of focussing on the now less capable product (my 2011 Panasonic TV is another YouTube victim) let me focus on the impact this makes on the customer – the one who paid out the money to buy the now less Smart product. If my TV had a web browser would I care about the loss of an App? – No! So in deleting this App, Google/YouTube are STRONGLY telling me that Apps are not to be relied upon and are to be treated like we treat JUNK food – tried once but never again!
The App was once heralded as the future of computing, but Mr Google, you have now shown us that its time is almost past.

Talking of things not working properly I have this morning received the notification of Corporal Nemo’s comment from May 27th. It does have the correct time and date — but but then – perhaps this is another proof of Google’s idea of service to customers.

In this case Which?. Whats happening?

Merlin says:
2 June 2015

It’s clear that Google are upsetting a lot of people who rely on the YouTube app for information and entertainment, and as you can search for exactly what you wish to view YouTube is in far more demand in my house than the TV programs. Now my 4 year old Philips TV is in the same boat as Sony, Panasonic and others, I’m looking for alternative ways of accessing this app. While my TV has internet access, it’s so slow as to be unusable, compared to the now unsupported app which was reasonably quick and ideal for searching and viewing videos. Yes I could connect my PC to the TV but that would mean the extra cost of running 2 machines (sometimes for several hours) and would still not work as well as the app. I can’t believe providing up-datable apps can be much of a problem for the TV manufacturers and therefor leaves me with the only conclusion I can make, that it was purely a commercial decision not to provide up-datable apps and the legal implications where extended guarantees are concerned need to be investigated to shake the manufacturers out of their complacency.

Hi Merlin,

If your TV has a spare HDMI input, one way of restoring access to youtube is to buy a nice cheap roku box from Sky’s NowTV service. Mine cost £15 in a sale and gives free access (via my home wifi and router) to both youtube and BBC iPlayer (etc.). When operating, it also have a nice low power consumption of ~2W .

Has Which made any progress on this? I’ve just discovered that my parents’ Sony television is one of the affected televisions. Fortunately they bought it from John Lewis with a 5-year warranty, although I’m not sure whether that will help them.

Dave Elliott says:
26 July 2015

I have a Sony Bravia kdl46ex720 bought in Jan 2012 and an LG MS409d bought in Sep 2009 both of which have stopped working on Youtube, I thought the idea behind smart tv’s and PVR’s etc was that they could be updated, unlike older non smart devices.

Jayne says:
30 July 2015

I bought a Sony Bravia TV in 2011 and all of the apps have disappeared.
I bought the TV with these apps on, so they should still be there.
Sony say they are not responsible, so who is?

Two weeks for £400 – not great value from LV;

Yesterday, August 25th, I bought the 2015 LG725 ‘streaming home entertainment system’ (as advertised on the box) from LV.. Having spent the obligatory time setting it up, positioning the speakers, updating the firmware, etc, I hearded up my assorted remote controls for one last time before sitting down with nothing more than my sky remote by my side and iPhone in my pocket knowing that I would need nothing else to control my new all in one, streamlined home entertainment system. So far, so good.

After marvelling for a moment at how, with one press of the sky button, every device would leap into action, seemlessly delivering 5.1 audio, or whatever the next channel was broadcasting in, without issue, before then powering down at my command. I did this a few times as I couldn’t believe I’d got it right first time!

No time to rest though, it was late by this time and a quick check of the rest of the features would allow me to put it to bed and look forward to the first opportunity to test it out. This, I’m afraid, is where it went from the sublime, to the Amazon Prime.

The iPhone battery was long past dead by now so rather than use the LG remote app (which works well with the existing TV and I expect to be the same with the Home Cinema) to sign into Netflix and so on I was left with the remote. Not a bad experience and before long I’d remembered and navigated my way around Netflix and Spotify, both looking good, no need to sign in to iPlayer but it too looks as you’d expect. Then Amazon Instant Video . .

Just before that, it’s worth noting that I’d been surprised to see the LG hardware I’d just purchased was only manufactured a couple of months ago and I’d been impressed at just how ‘current’ a bit of kit I’d bought. So I logged into Amazon Prime Instant Video without issue. Tired by this point after a long evening of ‘one time’ installation, I was ready to call it a night, but not before a short message from Amazon would bring my satisfaction at a purchase and installation well done to a shuddering halt, the message read;

“You will no longer be able to enjoy Amazon instant Video though this Blu Ray player from 14th September 2015”

And with that unapologetic one liner, my brand new, one day old, as up to date as a price of tech could get, ‘streaming home entertainment system’, bought with the sole purpose of bringing all my entertainment together in harmony, would do exactly that, but only for a little over two weeks, or to be fair to them, 19 days.

So there we have it, it waits to be seen how the next 19 days work out, will LG or Amazon reply to my emails querying this message? Could it be an error? Surely a device designed primarily to deliver streaming media at a moderately high price point would do that well and for a good while, from at least the two main subscription players in the market? For more than two weeks? Or will I be dismantling, repackaging, returning and starting over, assuming that the retailer will accept it? If I find out and If you’re interested, I’ll let you know.

I’m one of many angry Sony customers who has bought into the idea of streaming services recently. Early last year 2014 I purchased a Sony BDP-S7200 Blu-ray Player which as you might have guessed was advertised as having numerous streaming services. From day one I noticed issues with this device, some apps not fitting the screen correctly and words cut off by the edge of the screen not to mention an inability to enter passwords on screen because some apps didn’t provide an on-screen keyboard. For a so called ‘Smart Device’ it was anything but and required a computer to enter the passwords before use. Shame Sony hadn’t thought of adding keyboard functionality to their remote!!

One of the many advertised services on this device was the ability to listen to VTuner, an online global radio service. On many occasions the service was either unavailable or the stations were simply disappearing. This problem has been flogged to death over the last 12 months and effects Sony customers worldwide. Sony issued several statements to the effect that they were investigating the problem and although the service did resume normality on several occasions it was simply unavailable for the majority of the year. Sony have now released one further statement claiming the service will no longer be available. Annoyingly I now own 2 Sony devices and both devices have lost the ability to access this service.

Things got steadily worse after Sony released a firmware update in January this year which was supposed to fix some of these issues but now like so many others I have an even worse problem. Both Amazon Prime, YouTube and BBC iPlayer regularly cause this device to lock-up and become unresponsive to any remote commands.

I just watched a rented movie on Amazon Prime last night and the movie played to the end however I could not return to the Home Screen or exit from the Amazon Prime app. On this occasion I was able to turn this device off via the remote control though this is very rare. Of course doing this results in another issue whereby the ‘OFF’ light flashes on the front display repeatedly and flashes for ever more. As is usually the case the only solution is to pull the power lead from the wall while this unit is still turned on.

A quick search online reveals countless people suffering form this issue. Some customers have returned devices to their retailers only to discover that the replacement products exhibit the same fault. Some customers have even had faults on a third device!

Sony won’t accept responsibility for these issues and has even written a clause into it’s T&C’s stating that streaming services are not covered under warranty. Is that even legal?

If a company promotes a product as being able to use a particular service that service should also be included in it’s warranty. Surely if an advertised feature or service is no longer provided on that device, that device becomes materially different from when you purchase it. i.e. not fit for it’s advertised purpose!

John Benz says:
16 June 2016

Maybe u buy a Google-TV next time… Ty!

Anyone who is considering buying a ‘smart TV’ should be aware of the problem that the apps for iPlayer YouTube, etc may stop working before long. Has anything been done to ensure that mobile-controlled thermostats etc. will still work a few years down the line?

@wavechange

To be fair to consumers I think this responsibility should ultimately be placed on the manufacturers to advertise this clearly from the onset. Of course that’s unlikely unless legislation demands that they do that. Whilst it’s always recommended to do some research before buying a product a customer cannot be expected to think of every eventuality.

Yes you make a good point about mobile controlled thermostats. It’s feasible that as each new app is released we’ll come to a point where it won’t work on an older generation of phone. I have a similar situation with the Sony Side View app which can control my TV/Home Cinema equipment from my phone, except of course my phone is no longer supported due to me using an older Android OS.

Apologies for not responding to your notification, Slinky.

I agree that TV manufacturers etc. should warn potential buyers that apps may stop working. The solution could be for TVs to have a replaceable computer module that could be updated at an affordable price. It would just take one manufacturer to do this to put pressure on others to do the same. I see this has happened with sat navs, where the main manufacturers have moved from expensive map upgrades to free upgrades.

I paid £2,670 for my Philips 56inch 3D smart tv on 18-12-12 and I’m disgusted that I cannot use the you tube app any longer as this was a great feature and I thought it would have kept me happy with the music I enjoyed listening to for years to come. I have also lost the 3D channel what a rip off country we live in.

This is my letter to Harrods where I bought my TV:

On 5 March 2011, I ordered and paid £2,299.99 for a Sony KDL-46HX923 Television with a 5 year warranty from the then Sony Galleria in Harrods, which was eventually delivered on Monday July 25, 2011.

In around Mid-2015, the YouTube feature of the TV ceased functioning with the message Google no longer supports this YouTube App.

I had expected this to be fixed by Sony in a subsequent software update but this has not happened and as the TV is approaching the end of it warranty period I thought it prudent to contact Harrods.

Please can you advise how the TV can be updated so that the You Tube feature is available again?

At present the operation of the TV is faulty as it no longer works as originally described and so it needs to be repaired or replaced.

Yours sincerely

Richard Spurr

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I don’t have a smart TV and just two days ago my YouTube app stopped working properly. Incan get audio but no video or picture . We have a Samsung TV that is only a couple of years old.

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W lewisb says:
11 April 2016

My Sony blu-ray DVD player on my Tv gives an error in YouTube that says it can’t upload the format then it starts loading and loading what’s is wrong ? It was playing movies on you tube fine yesterday

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Figa says:
6 June 2016

P**a b****na

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John Benz says:
16 June 2016

A look into the future of Google making business. Kinda scary, isn’t it?

mark says:
11 August 2016

youtube stopes working on my panasonic viera 3 days ago the tv is only 4 years old im furious keep hoping its gonna suddenly start working again i feel conned 🙁

My Samsung smart to is less than two years old and we have problems too with YouTube. Would buying an Amazon Fire stick help – we have full smart capability so haven’t needed one till now but I wondering if one would,bypass the settings and allow us access again.

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Hi Duncan
So would the Roku enable YouTube to work properly? When we first got the tv some 18 months ago YouTube was working fine but now it hangs,,freezes and generally doesn’t function properly. I read some people access it successfully through the web browser on the tv, which we have, but that takes time to do.
Thanks for the reply.

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Thanks Duncan
It seems odd that our tv is relatively new and we still have problems. Will check out the Roku and have a look at the website so many thanks for the advice.

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Thanks again for that. We do have the odd problem with Amazon IV when it comes up saying there is insufficient bandwidth but I think that is a broadband issue as there is a HMO next door with students coming and going who I think are all using it at the same time! It looks like the Roku is my best bet so will give that a try. Thanks for the clear advice and help, much appreciated.

We have had the odd problem with Amazon Instant Video as well when we have been half way through a programme or film and its come up saying there is insufficient bandwidth but I think that is more of a problem with the broadband as there is a house of multiple occupancy next door with groups of students coming and going so they may be all using the bandwidth at the same time! Sounds as if the Roku is the way to go then so I will do some research on that. Many thanks for the clear advice. There are so many things to take into account with all this technology these days aren’t there?!!

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Thank you again Duncan. Good advice. I can usually work out the technical stuff – logical mind I think! Will have a look at that. Cheers!

An update on my issue. I discovered that you can pair your iPad to the tv and select and play from there. My OH sat and watched a film right through last night – Genghis Khan from 1965 if you will! – without buffering once. I have now set up,his iPad mini in the same way so he’s not on mine and so far so good. Time will tell if it’s a permanent fix but to my mind you’re using an alternative to the TV in the same way as using a stick. Am I right? Would welcome any comments.

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mrs r has an Apple tv adaptor that plugs in to our non-internet tv. She can play certain channels tv programmes that she’s (and I’ve) missed from her iPad.

Henia Barrameda Lopingco says:
14 September 2016

Best option is to purchase a “Dumb TV” or a basic TV which would cost you a lot less that purchasing a Smart TV then get a Roku Box which is a hundred dollars or less for you to access Youtube.