DIRECTV NOW for Apple TV

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DIRECTV NOW Live TV Error Screen

As with many aspects of DIRECTV NOW, live TV performance leaves much to be desired. During my brief one week trial, there were a lot of playback problems. Each time I experienced a problem, I checked my Internet speed using Speedtest. Every time, the problem was with DIRECTV NOW. Keep in mind, I didn’t try this app the day it came out. I waited almost a month before going for the free trial. There were simply too many performance problems with live TV.

When it worked, it looked great. However, far too many times, my TV viewing enjoyment was interrupted by blank screens with error messages. Unlike Sony’s PlayStation Vue, which boasts flawless live TV, I was constantly reminded that this is just some buggy Internet-based product. The problem is that AT&T wants you to pay for it. Sling TV is much better, at a fraction of the price. PlayStation Vue is the best service I’ve tested. But they all suffer from similar problems — weird business rules that undermine the interactivity one would expect on such platforms.

Beyond the intentional business rules and obvious data center issues, there are some serious bugs. Their developers obviously don’t understand the life cycle of tvOS apps. If you switch between DIRECTV NOW and other tvOS apps, you will eventually see an error message: “Looks like your account’s maximum number of streams are already playing content.” There’s more to the error, but the gist is that the app detects that you are playing multiple streams, even if you are only using the app on one Apple TV. It’s because when you exit (but don’t close the app) and resume the app, it counts it as an additional stream.

This can be easily fixed by closing the app. Simply double tap the Home button to launch the App Switcher, then swipe up on the DIRECTV NOW app to close it. Then launch it again. But it undermines the ideal use cases for Apple TV. If you desire to switch between apps using Siri, eventually you will have to intervene and fiddle with DIRECTV NOW, because their quality assurance testers didn’t find this bug. Maybe they did, but their engineers couldn’t fix it. In either event, it’s par for the course. This app is BUGGY!

Is DIRECTV NOW Worth It?

Although my review may seem harsh, this is a surprisingly half-baked product launched by one of the biggest corporations on the planet — AT&T. Actually, maybe it isn’t that surprising. All of my dealings with AT&T have been negative, and I have an aversion to any of their products. In fact, I waited a few years to get my first iPhone, because I didn’t want to sign on with AT&T. (Remember that embarrassing issue with dropped calls on the iPhone? That was AT&T’s fault.) I remember ordering U-Verse from AT&T. I unpacked my brand new modem/router and plugged it in. It worked for 3 minutes before the router broke! I just sent it back and cancelled the service. This is the same company that charged me almost $40 a month for a landline (with no features), then charged me an exorbitant fee to disconnect it. In the big picture DIRECTV NOW’s quality is what one would expect from AT&T. It’s not even mediocre. (continue…)

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