Why Are Smart TV Apps So Bad? 5 Feasible Reasons

Why Are Smart TV Apps So Bad

Smart TVs are now cheaper than ever.

You can get them for less than $150 on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other limited-time deals.

But virtually all smart TVs suffer from the same problem – the included apps suck.

Here are 5 reasons why smart TV apps are so bad:

  1. Smart TVs must have a low, competitive price.
  2. Smart TVs have weak processing hardware.
  3. It’s difficult to make a good app interface for a remote.
  4. Smart TVs come with a lot of pre-installed bloatware.
  5. The manufacturer controls what apps you can install.

This article will explain why smart TV apps are bad.

I’ll also explain how to mitigate that so that you can finally enjoy your new 4K smart TV.

1. Smart TVs Must Have a Low, Competitive Price

The Smart TV market is fiercely competitive. 

You can easily find a high-quality 4K TV from reputable brands like Sony, Samsung, and LG for as cheap as $400.

To reach that super affordable price, many corners must be cut. This includes software.

The apps that came with your smart TV are developed by the manufacturer.

Only very popular apps like YouTube and Netflix are made by the original developers. 

This means that a small group of developers has to work on everything to keep the costs low.

The developers have to meet strict deadlines. 

They don’t pay much attention to software optimization, leading to slow, buggy apps.

Manufacturers have nothing to gain by spending millions on software.

Sure, you would have a much friendlier user experience.

But when the main goal is to sell as many TVs as possible, the price and the number of features outweigh software quality. 

An average TV buyer only cares if a TV is “smart,” not what type of operating system it runs or what apps come with it. 

2. Smart TVs Have Weak Processing Hardware

This ties in with the previous point.

Even if the software was any good on smart TVs, you’d still need decent hardware to run it.

Smart TV manufacturers tend to use the cheapest hardware they can source.

They don’t care about clock speed, amount of RAM, number of CPU and GPU cores, etc.

Smart TVs use an SoC (System on a chip).

It’s a chip that has everything the TV needs to work – the CPU, RAM, GPU, and other components.

SoCs are the beating heart of smartphones, smart TVs, and tablets.

In a nutshell, you’re running modern smart TV apps on 5-year-old low-end hardware. 

This enormous imbalance usually means that smart TV apps are slow from the beginning.

It only gets worse as years go by. I’ve experienced this first-hand on my smart TV.

At this point, it’s a miracle that the SoC can even handle WiFi and 4K streaming.

3. It’s Difficult to Make a Good App Interface for a Remote

Smart TV operating systems and apps have horrible interfaces.

They’re difficult to navigate with a remote controller, and important controls often don’t pop up anywhere on the screen.

Smart TVs are crammed with obscure interface elements and hidden menus.

You know a smart TV program sucks when it takes you more than a minute to find what you want to watch.

Again, this is because the manufacturers don’t hire a team of professional interface designers to make their apps and OS functional and user-friendly.

Another gripe is that smart TV apps lack basic features compared to the smartphone and desktop variants. 

Apps like YouTube, Hulu, Prime Video, and Netflix have unintuitive button placements.

They work fine on touchscreen displays. But navigating to them with a remote requires a lot of needless button clicking.

The worst part is that some apps force you to type letter-by-letter with the remote instead of using voice commands. Even the multi-tap keyboard system from old mobile phones would be way better.

4. Smart TVs Come With a Lot of Pre-Installed Bloatware

Remember I mentioned smart TVs are super cheap? There’s a reason for that.

Smart TV manufacturers collect and sell your data to advertisers through pre-installed apps.

They also sell you music and video streaming services through said apps.

Smart TVs are often sold with minimum profit margins or even at a loss. We know that’s a terrible way to do business. But the manufacturers know exactly what they’re doing.

I won’t mention any names, but it’s safe to assume that most, if not all of them, gather your personal data.

Moreover, the pre-installed apps slow down your TV by wasting the little processing power and storage you have. And they’re often very slow and have clunky UIs.

The only exception is apps you actually want to use, like Netflix and Rakuten TV.

If you want to get rid of all the useless apps on a Samsung Smart TV, watch this video:

5. The Manufacturer Controls What Apps You Can Install

The TV manufacturer controls your entire software experience.

The smart TV manufacturer develops everything, from the proprietary operating systems to the included apps.

Sideloading apps just isn’t an option. For example, Samsung states that you can only download apps available in their App store.

This is a huge downside if your favorite app isn’t available in their store.

They won’t even let you install VLC, a popular free media player.

Having a closed operating system like this limits you to only a handful of useful apps.

This is a huge downside because the apps included with the TV are very bad, and you have no way of replacing them with something better.

You can’t even install a third-party app store on most smart TVs.

How to Fix Bad Smart TV Apps

The only way to fix bad apps on your smart TV is to stop using them altogether. 

Unfortunately, this either means that you’ll have to resort to using Chromecast from your phone or buying a smart TV device.

There are dozens of smart TV boxes and sticks to choose from based on your preferences and needs. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

These devices have much faster hardware and more intuitive software than the stuff that comes with your smart TV. Feel free to click them and verify price and availability on Amazon

Nelson Barbosa

I'm an engineer in love with smart home tech. On my website, I share useful tips and tricks to help my readers get the most of their devices and make their lives simpler by adding just a drop of technology in everyday routines!

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