Awesome, affordable Apple TV alternatives on sale right now

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Awesome, affordable Apple TV alternatives
Get yours from just $19.99.
Photos: Amazon, Roku

You don’t have to splash out on an Apple TV to enjoy Apple TV+ and Apple Music alongside all your other favorite streaming services. They’re now available on a whole host of brilliant third-party devices — many of which are on sale now.

Unlike Apple, the likes of Amazon and Roku are offering big Black Friday discounts that are already live. Here are our picks of the best Apple TV alternatives that you can buy today from just $19.99.

HBO Max plans to fix broken Apple TV app ‘within days’

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HBO Max’s free tier won’t include first-run films
A major overhaul is also on the way.
Photo: WarnerMedia

HBO Max plans to fix its buggy Apple TV app “within days,” while other platforms will see big fixes before the end of the year.

Users have been plagued by issues that affect playback control, subtitles, and general usability. Executives insist they aren’t blind to the problems, and a major overhaul for all platforms is on the way.

Apple TV can’t match Amazon and Roku in popularity

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Apple's new Apple TV 4K with redesigned Siri Remote
It's ahead of Chromecast, though.
Photo: Apple

Apple TV (the hardware, not the streaming service) makes up around 12.5% of set-top boxes in a very fragmented marketplace, according to analysis from Parks Associates.

That lags behind Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV Box, which currently stand neck-and-neck. Nonetheless, Apple TV ranks a few percentage points ahead of Google’s Chromecast. Back in 2017, Chromecast came in ahead of Apple TV. And, as recently as 2018 and 2019, the two remained competitive.

Roku OS update adds AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support to older streamers

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Roku OS update adds AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support to older streamers
Roku got closer to Apple with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support. Even the new Voice Remote Pro has an Apple connection.
Photo: Roku

The release of Roku OS 10 brings support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit to several more Roku streaming devices and smart TVs. These streaming options were once reserved for pricey settop boxes but are now available on very affordable devices.

Apple TV 3 loses YouTube support, but there is a workaround

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Apple TV Siri Remote
Sad times for third-gen. Apple TV owners.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

YouTube is now officially dead on the third-generation Apple TV. Users who attempt to watch the app will be greeted by an error message that confirms Apple’s aging hardware is no longer supported.

That’s hardly surprising given that the third-generation Apple TV is close to a decade old now. But there is a workaround (sort of) for those who still want to watch their favorite YouTube channels on the big screen.

Roku acquires ill-fated Quibi’s back catalog of shows [Updated]

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Power players Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman apparently couldn't save Quibi.
Power players Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman ran Quibi.
Photo: Fortune Brainstorm Tech/Flickr CC

Update: The New York Times says the deal has been completed. Quibi’s 75 shows and documentaries will appear from free on the Roku Channel through 2021. The deal last for seven years.

Roku is negotiating to buy the content catalog of ill-fated short form streaming video service Quibi, the Wall Street Journal claims.

Quibi, which made short, episodic shows for watching on your phone, launched in April 2020 and shut down in October, giving it a shelf-life as short as the shows it produced.

Roku players gain AirPlay 2 streaming and HomeKit capabilities

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Roku with Apple AirPlay 2 support — finally!
With AirPlay 2, an iPhone can easily stream video to a large TV. And it’s coming to Roku.
Photo: Apple

Roku players will soon support AirPlay 2, Apple’s wireless video streaming technology. This will allow an iPhone, iPad or Mac user to share content directly to a supported Roku device.

In addition, Roku announced a new iOS app, and upcoming support for Apple’s home automation system.

Apple TV reigns with best picture quality among streaming devices in pandemic’s early days

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Apple TV Siri Remote
Streaming video quality during early 2020 was above par using Apple TV devices.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

While it might be far down the pecking order of best selling streaming boxes, the Apple TV and Apple TV 4K got high marks in the first quarter of this year for best picture quality speed and shortest lag time in starting videos, according to data collected from billions of sensors embedded into video applications.

The results are a clear sign of how well streaming devices and services performed in a period where more people around the world were homebound due to the coronavirus pandemic and turned to watching television en masse.

Apple Watch owners get Roku controls on their wrist

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Roku-Apple-Watch
Leave that phone in your pocket.
Photo: Roku

Roku just debuted a new Apple Watch app that lets you control its streaming devices from your wrist.

You can use the app to launch your favorite Channels and control media playback. You can also use its voice recognition capabilities to search for movies and TV shows.