Losing YouTube on the old Apple TV underscores how far ahead competitors are

Technology

The YouTube app on older Apple TV models has officially been discontinued as of today. If you have a third-generation device (the 2012-era model that predated the modern tvOS-based set-top boxes), you’ll only be able to stream YouTube through an iOS device using AirPlay starting today, as noted by 9to5Mac.

While the news has been known for a while, the change highlights a key issue with the Apple TV ecosystem. Namely, that it’s been nearly three and a half years since Apple has last updated its streaming box hardware.

If you own the old model with the now defunct YouTube app, your only Apple-made options are the 2017 Apple TV 4K or what Apple now calls the Apple TV HD, the older model from 2015. That’s particularly problematic, given that the Apple TV 4K still starts at $179 (with a pricier 64GB model that offers double the storage for $199), despite being released years ago. Even the Apple TV HD still costs $149.

That’s in stark comparison to competitors like Amazon, Google, and Roku, which have released newer streaming products that offer the same (if not better) features than Apple’s outdated box at far lower prices. Roku’s flagship streaming box, the Roku Ultra, costs $99 — nearly half the price of the entry-level Apple TV 4K — while supporting 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision, and Apple’s own AirPlay 2 streaming. The $50 Streaming Stick Plus offers 4K and HDR (without Dolby Vision) for those looking to save even more money.

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube costs $119.99 and offers similar high-end streaming specs, while also doubling as a full-fledged Echo speaker. Like Roku, Amazon also has its cheaper $50 Fire TV Stick 4K, which offers the full gamut of streaming support (Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, HDR10+, and HDR10) without the added Alexa speaker.

And of course, there’s Google’s latest Chromecast, which costs just $50, offers excellent content curation, supports 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos, and Dolby Vision, and remains The Verge’s best choice for a streaming stick in 2021.

With more and more apps starting to end support for Apple’s older streaming boxes (CBS All Access has already announced that it’ll be enacting a similar change when Paramount Plus launches), the problem of the Apple TV’s outdated hardware and pricing are only going to continue to grow.