Tech News

Roku removed the YouTube TV app, but Google has a way around it

It seems Roku and Google are the latest platforms in a squabble over YouTube, this one concerning the YouTube TV app in particular. A dispute between the two companies resulted in Roku removing the YouTube TV app listing from its platform around a week ago, but now Google is back with a change to the main app that gets around the issue.

Roku users can no longer find the YouTube TV app on the platform, but existing installations of the app remain. That means if you’re a new YouTube TV customer who hasn’t already downloaded the app, you’ll have to look to other platforms to use it…or take advantage of the new YouTube TV feature within the main YouTube app.

Only days after the app’s removal, Google has updated its main YouTube app on the Roku platform to include direct access to the YouTube TV platform. This means the service’s customers will no longer need to download a dedicated YouTube TV app in order to watch the live TV offering with their Roku set-top box, stick, or smart TV.

If you’re a Roku device owner and YouTube TV subscriber, you’ll be able to access the subscription in the main YouTube app on Roku in the next few days. If this sounds familiar, that’s because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a company use a workaround in the midst of a dispute.

Back during the Amazon and Google feud in 2017, Google removed YouTube from the Fire TV platform, but Amazon got around this by prompting YouTube users to open the video platform’s website in its web browser. It’s unclear how long this fight between Google and Roku will last, but until then, look for the YouTube TV link in the left-hand side of the main YouTube Roku app.

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YouTube TV Roku app gone: What comes next [UPDATE: YouTube statement]

Today the YouTube TV app was removed from Roku as Google and Roku did not reach an agreement for license extension. The contract between the companies would have required that Roku agree to terms with which they suggest they’re not comfortable. These terms would apparently place Google apps and services at the top of search results, and provide Google with user tracking data Roku says they should not need.

If you are a Roku user and currently use the YouTube TV app, you should be OK for a while. Roku says they will not go in and remove the app from your device, and will not cut off service unless Google intervenes. At the moment, it is only the YouTube TV app listed for download with the Roku channel store that’s removed as a listing.

New subscriptions for YouTube TV will not be able to activated, even if you already have the YouTube TV app installed. If you already have the YouTube TV app installed and you already have a subscription, you should be able to access YouTube TV on your Roku.

The standard YouTube app will be unaffected by this situation, as far as any official source says as yet. YouTube TV and YouTube have separate contract agreements with Roku, and one should not bear upon the other. This does not mean that this situation won’t change how Google works with Roku in the future – it COULD happen.

Users have reported that the YouTube TV app for Roku remains active and unaffected for the moment. It COULD be deactivated in the future, but for now it’ll remain available to users so long as they’ve already subscribed and already have the standard app on their Roku device.

UPDATE: YouTube representatives released a statement on the subject, suggesting that their “offer to Roku was simple and still stands: renew the YouTube TV deal under the existing reasonable terms.” They’ve suggested that Roku “chose to use this as a separate deal encompassing the YouTube main app.”

YouTube representatives also suggested that Roku “requested exceptions” to their technical requirements “that would break the YouTube experience and limit our ability to update YouTube in order to fix issues or add new features.” This included Roku not agreeing to open-source video codecs.

Most importantly, YouTube representatives say that they “have never, as they have alleged, made any requests to access user data or interfere with search results. This claim is baseless and false.”

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Roku Voice Remote Pro is rechargeable, but good luck getting it

Roku, one of the most popular home streaming platforms, is finally getting a rechargeable remote control — but the availability is limited and you may not be able to get one any time soon. The new remote is something you’ll be able to recharge using a USB cable, eliminating the need to keep a supply of batteries on hand.

Most modern devices are rechargeable, but remote controls tend to be the stubborn holdout that continues to use AA and AAA batteries. This isn’t the best for the environment, as most consumers opt to use ordinary disposable batteries rather than their rechargeable siblings.

It seems Roku is finally ready to offer a rechargeable remote — a post on Reddit, which was first spied by Zatz Not Funny, shows a limited time offer Voice Remote Pro with a rechargeable battery priced at $29.99 USD. However, the image notes that only 2,000 units are being sold.

In addition to the rechargeable nature of this ‘Pro’ remote, it features the expected voice feature, plus a lost remote finder. The remote likewise features two user shortcut buttons in the place where you’d ordinarily find the dedicated streaming service buttons.

The Voice Remote Pro is offered as part of Roku’s Early Access Program, meaning you only have a shot to get it as long as the supplies last. It’s unclear when the remote will be made available for everyone and whether any changes will be made before that wider availability — assuming the company proceeds to fully launch the product.

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