HBO Max made waves this month when parent WarnerMedia announced that major new Warner Bros. films, starting with Wonder Woman 1984 on Dec. 25, will be arriving on the streaming service at the same time they debut in theaters. That’s a wonderful news for HBO Max subscribers (and DC fans) who want to watch at home during the coronavirus pandemic. But people who use a Roku TV or streamer may feel left out.
Fortunately, there are a few workarounds that will allow Roku owners to watch HBO Max anyway. They’re not as convenient as a dedicated HBO Max app – something that’s available on numerous other devices. However, something is better than nothing. The easiest way is to use AirPlay, which requires an Apple device and a 4K Roku streamer or TV. You could also use Roku’s built-in screen mirroring, which works with most Android phones and Windows PCs.
How to stream HBO Max via AirPlay on Roku
According to Roku’s support page, the following devices are required for AirPlay:
- 4K Roku TV or 4K Roku streamer, including the Ultra, Streaming Stick Plus, Premiere or Streambar, running Roku OS 9.4 or later. You can check the software by going to Settings, then System and About. Note that non-4K Roku TVs and streamers like the Roku Express are not compatible.
- An iPhone ($599 at Apple), iPad ($263 at Back Market) or iPod Touch ($125 at Back Market) (running iOS 12.3 or later)
- A Mac computer (running MacOS Mojave 10.14.5 or later)
If you don’t have an Apple device and/or a compatible Roku, you can try Roku’s screen mirroring function.
To use AirPlay with Roku, the first step is to make sure your Roku is updated to the latest software and that your Apple device is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Roku. And then–
1. Open up the HBO Max app on your device.
2. Open Control Center on iOS, which can be done by swiping up on older iPhones or iPod Touches that have a physical home button or by swiping down from the right corner on newer iPhones (iPhone X or later) and on iPads.
3. Tap on Screen Mirroring and select your Roku. You should see your iPhone mirrored on the Roku.
4. In the HBO Max app tap what you want to watch and it should play.
For a Mac you may need to go to System Preferences, then Displays to get the AirPlay option. Put your iPhone, iPad or Mac’s screen on your TV using AirPlay.
Sometimes the stream gets buggy, so it’s not a perfect solution. But it often works fine even on older TCL Roku TV.
Couple of things to note: WarnerMedia tells CNET that AirPlay streaming from the HBO Max app should work even when watching 4K HDR content — Wonder Woman 1984 will be HBO Max’s first such title. While notifications won’t appear, as it is mirroring from your phone, if you exit the app to do something else, HBO Max will stop playing. A phone call will also disrupt the stream, so make sure “do not disturb” is turned on.
In a statement, a WarnerMedia spokesman told CNET, “We don’t support AirPlay from MacBooks but don’t have any comment or reasoning to share today.”
How to stream from an Android device
If you have an Android phone, you can cast from it using screen mirroring. Available on Rokus for years, this feature has been found on most Android phones for a while (with the exception of Google Pixels, which don’t support it) and brings your phone’s screen onto the TV. Roku says that most of its TVs and streamers support the feature.
Enabling this feature, however, is a bit complicated, as different phone-makers have given it different names. Samsung, for example, calls it Smart View on its latest Galaxy phones, and it can often be accessed by pulling down on the notification shade. Other names for the feature include Smart View, Quick Connect, SmartShare, AllShare Cast, Wireless display, Display mirroring, HTC Connect, Screen casting, Cast.
Once you find the name, it’s pretty easy to set up. To get it working you simply need to make sure your device was on the same Wi-Fi network as the Roku, open Smart View (or whatever its called on your device) from the notification screen (or settings) and tap on Roku TV in the list of devices. A prompt then appears on Roku, click allow, and you are all set.
If you don’t see the Roku in the screen mirror list and you’re on the same Wi-Fi network, make sure screen mirroring is enabled. You can check this by going to Settings, System and then Screen Mirroring. Make sure “Screen mirroring mode” is set to “prompt” (the default setting) or always.
Note: Like AirPlay, this isn’t the same as Chromecasting something to your TV. By mirroring, everything on your phone becomes visible which means notifications and text messages could appear and a call could disrupt the stream. You’ll want to make sure “do not disturb” is turned on and be prepared to not look at your phone while watching.
How to watch using a Windows PC
You can also use Windows to screen mirror to your Roku. To access this on a PC, open the action center, which is the little chat bubble icon in the lower right. From there, tap on Connect, which should pull up available displays. Pick your Roku, and your Windows PC should now be visible on your Roku.
Another option is to tap the Windows button and search “project to a wireless display” into the search in the lower left. From there simply open up HBO Max in a browser, and you should be good to go. There could be some breakup and stuttering at times, as well as a slightly softer image. But the video will still be watchable overall.
Until HBO Max and Roku bury the hatchet, any of the methods above should allow you to watch on your Roku. And if AirPlay and screen mirroring seem like too much of a pain, it might be time for a new streamer that has an HBO Max app, something like the excellent Chromecast with Google TV.