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Sky infuriates Android fans with limited support for Sky Go

Sky has angered its Android-using customers by refusing to speed up or widen Android support for its Sky Go service.

Sky has angered its Android-using customers by refusing to speed up or widen Android support for its Sky Go service.

Sky Go is an app that lets you watch the Sky stuff you pay for -- including live sport and the latest movies -- on your phone or tablet.

Android fans are outraged that very few Android devices are supported, particularly as all Apple devices are catered for, and they've been piling into a huge thread on Sky's forum.

While the problem has been rumbling on since Sky Go first appeared, this latest thread has escalated the issue. It accuses Sky of being in breach of its customer code, which states, "At Sky we will do all we can to provide you with the most suitable response specific to your particular situation and to ensure, where possible, that your complaint is resolved to your satisfaction."

Sky's customer support rep Andrew Stevens promised an official statement several times last week, with users exasperated at the length of time it took to get a response. Stevens even drew criticism, perhaps tongue in cheek, for using his iPhone to post on the forum.


But when the response came, it wasn't what the users were looking for. Wendy Schratz, a Sky director with responsibility for E-Experience and development, posted, "Our key objective... is very simple: we want to make our content available on as many platforms and devices as possible -- regardless of manufacturer or platform.

"We have two equally resourced teams that work on app development for Sky Go, one for Apple development and one for Android. However, due to the nature of the Android platform -- in terms of both the variety of operating systems and the sheer number of devices -- the reality is that developing for Android throws up a number of additional challenges when compared to working on iOS devices."

In a follow-up post where the technical development team answered users' specific questions, Sky put the blame firmly on the movie studios. Many Android users were furious that Game of Thrones-maker HBO was able to support all Android 4.2 devices within a week of its rollout, whereas Sky has yet to support any 4.1 device.

"Unlike some other content providers we have a lot of 3rd party content available on Sky Go," the Q&A says. "We have multiple contracts with varying obligations in order to protect this content. For example, Sky has rights to content in the first pay TV window (following DVD release), whereas some other movie services do not, therefore our security requirements are different. We have a very sophisticated Digital Rights Management system which we which we work hard to protect.

"It means we are unable to release one generic app that will work across all Android handsets, and to ensure each handset adheres to our content protection requirements, they do need to be tested individually."

It would be an understatement to say the forum users were not impressed with this. "You've simply taken 5 days to come up with a statement telling us nothing new whatsoever. The only thing you have proved is that you have not heard a word we, your PAYING CUSTOMERS, have been saying for the last year. 'Believe in better'? Practice what you preach Sky," writes KingfisherUK

Android has exploded this year, particularly in tablets, which are arguably Sky Go's natural home. While cheap tablets such as the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD have only come to the UK in the last few months, they've been hugely successful. Sky has been slow to respond to this, but most major media companies favour Apple's App Store over Google Play.

Platform problems

Is it harder to develop for Android than iOS? The BBC thinks so -- it had to twist Adobe's arm to put Flash Player back on Android so it could continue to support its iPlayer app there. 4oD doesn't have an Android app at all.

But because Sky Go doesn't support Jelly Bean, some customers can't upgrade their phone to the new OS without losing the service. "My phone is asking me EVERY 3 HOURS to install updates and I have to cancel this because of Sky Go," complains user Mighty Red.

Unfortunately for infuriated customers, Sky holds all the cards. No other service provides as many of the latest movies in a pay-monthly package; no other service has as much live sport. As user Alistair+Burns says, "It was only the coverage of the rugby today beyond the final whistle without an ITV style leap to adverts that kept me from ringing up and cancelling my £720 a year subscription."

It's clear though that the number of Android users feeling ripped off by this lack of support is increasing. The thread has over 500 comments and more users are joining the forum specifically to complain, with some reporting that Sky's call centre staff have suggested they buy an iPad to access the service. It's a simple equation: when its lack of Android support begins to outweigh the value for money it provides, Sky will begin to lose paying customers.

Are you an angry Android fan? Have you cancelled your Sky subscription over this? Let rip in the comments below, or over on our platform-agnostic Facebook page.