Not all every streaming platform supports every app, which could be a deal breaker for some people. There's no use in buying a Fire TV streaming stick if you plan on streaming English Premier League soccer games because it doesn't support NBC's new streaming app, Peacock, for example. Or there's no use buying a Chromecast streaming dongle if you want to watch See or The Morning Show, because the Apple TV app isn't yet supported on Chromecast devices.
Most of the really popular streaming apps, like Netflix or Disney+, are supported on all the major streaming platforms, but there are app omissions for Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. Here's what you need to know before you buy.
HBO Max is the biggest omission on all Roku streaming devices and smart TVs. You can still get HBO Now and HBO GO, both of which are legacy apps, but you can't get HBO Max and all its added programing. That includes a huge backlog of movies (like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and all the movies in the DC Universe) and shows (like Friends and The Big Bang Theory).
If that's a dealbreaker for you, you can go for the Apple TV ($149):
Or the Chromecast with Google TV ($50):
The new Chromecast with Google TV is the search giant's first streaming dongle that actually functions as a streaming operating system for your TV. Previous Chromecast dongles and TVs, your only option was to cast a show or movie to your TV from your smartphone, tablet or computer. However, even with the new UI there's still no support for Apple TV+ or the Apple TV app. And, as the new Chromecast dongle doesn't support AirPlay, you can't simply cast Apple TV+ content from your iPhone to the dongle. There are some fairly complicated workarounds but in general you can't watch shows and movies that are exclusive to Apple TV+ on Google's Chromecast devices.
If you really need Apple TV support, you can get an Apple TV ($149):
Or you can get a Roku Streaming Stick+ ($50):
Amazon Fire TV
As of November 17, HBO Max is finally available on Amazon Fire TV streaming devices and smart TVs. Previously you were only able to get HBO Now and HBO GO, both of which are legacy apps that don't give you access to HBO Max's added programing and movies. The only big app that's not available on Amazon Fire TV streaming platform is Peacock, which is close to my heart for streaming non-televised English Premier League soccer matches but also provides access to films from Universal Pictures and Dreamworks Animation.
For Peacock, you'll have better luck with an Apple TV ($149+):
Or a Chromecast with Google TV ($50):
The good news for Apple TV (HD or 4K) owners is that it basically supports all the major streaming apps. The only real downside is that not all services work with the Apple TV app, which is the central organizing interphase on every Apple TV. The biggest omission to the Apple TV app is Netflix. You can watch Netflix on an Apple TV, but Netflix movies and shows won't appear as suggestions in the Apple TV app.