Microsoft spent the better of the Xbox One’s first year on store shelves improving on the console’s software and throwing in new software features voted on by its community. Its final software act of the season doesn’t involve new gaming features or key upgrades to how the system works though. HBO Go has finally arrived on the Xbox One.
HBO Go finally arrived on the Xbox One this morning and understanding why users are so excited about the entertainment app is important. First, HBO Go is the video streaming app that lets millions of users watch blockbuster movies and famed HBO series without a cable box. Users simply sign in with their credentials and they’re ready to stream almost anything that’s airing on the channel on their own schedule.
Second, Microsoft promised Xbox One users an HBO Go app last year around the same time the console went on sale. It never indicated that HBO Go for Xbox One was coming on a specific day, but did make sure that users thinking about picking up the console factor that into their buying decision. That it took Microsoft so long to deliver the on the app it’d promised was a bit of some embarrassment, though why that is remains unclear. In theory, it would be HBO who was responsible for creating and releasing the HBO Go app, not Microsoft.
HBO Go is available for everyone to download free from the Xbox Store, that’s the same area that houses other Xbox One apps. It’s also where Microsoft sells Xbox Video content and allows users to purchase games from. Xbox One owners can download the app by going into the Store with their controller and manually downloading it or saying “Xbox, Bing,” “HBO Go” using the Kinect 2 sensor. HBO Go should only take a few moments to download.
Although the app is free, the service actually isn’t. HBO partners with established big players in the television space to provide HBO Go to users. It’s not a direct service like Netflix. Instead, HBO Go counts on users having a cable or satellite subscription. For example, Comcast users simply pay for a basic television package and then add HBO onto that package. HBO Go really is just a perk of already being an HBO customer. When users log into the service, it’s with their cable or satellite subscriber account. No way is the service to be considered an easy way to replace pay television – yet.
In recent years HBO has said it plans on experimenting with its subscription model, possibly introducing an independent service for those who want to watch HBO content without a cable subscription. That new subscription option hasn’t arrived yet though.
Microsoft’s original push for the Xbox One centered on the console being an all-in-one entertainment solution for the entire family. Games were a big part of that mandate, but so where entertainment apps like HBO Go. Since launching the Xbox One last year Microsoft’s partners have release a decent amount of apps for the console. This week the Xbox One picked up apps for Crunchyroll and Encore Play. Encore Play is another video streaming service that works a lot like HBO Go. It also requires that users have a cable subscription before using it, despite the app itself being free in the Xbox Store.
Like most other Xbox One apps, how you navigate HBO Go for Xbox One is completely up to you. HBO Go for Xbox One allows users to control playback with their voice thanks to the Kinect 2 sensor. As such, you can tell it to pause a video or choose a specific video without having to use the Xbox One controller. HBO Go also supports gestures so that users can select movies and television shows with their hands.