Mobile streaming app Quibi added a feature to let users watch its shows on their home televisions. iPhone users can now cast the shows to their TVs using AirPlay, and Android phone users will be able to do the same with Google’s Chromecast beginning in June.
Quibi chief product officer Tom Conrad Tweeted Tuesday announcing the new technology. “Sure we designed Quibi for on-the-go, but these days visiting the family room is like a day trip… so AirPlay support is live for iOS in Quibi 1.3,” Conrad said.
Conrad said the Chromecast update is a “whole different kettle of fish than AirPlay,” and that it will be available sometime next month.
Chief Executive Meg Whitman told TheWrap earlier this month the company was working to integrate the technology but said it was a challenge. Whitman also said adding the ability to watch shows on the TV doesn’t signal a change in the company’s strategy, which still prioritizes mobile viewing.
“We don’t want to be a mainstream streamer,” Whitman said. “Our use case is still mobile-first, in some cases mobile-only viewing.”
Quibi has not announced any plans to produce versions of its app native to smart TVs, despite many users saying they would use a TV app.
Quibi launched its streaming app in the middle of the global pandemic, a decision co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg later said he regretted, noting, “I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus.”
Short for “quick bites,” the Quibi service was originally designed for on-the-go viewing during errands or while commuting. With widespread stay-at-home orders cutting down on what Katzenberg called the “in-between times” that viewers would usually use Quibi, the company found its users were begging to watch shows on their televisions instead.
“We found more people were home, and they wanted to watch a show on their TV with their family,” Whitman told TheWrap. “People are still finding in-between times to watch but there are less of them and they are different.”
Some Quibi users chimed in on Twitter to respond to Conrad’s announcement.
“Thank goodness. I get that you designed Quibi for mobile, but by going out of your way to restrict it to mobile you did your prospective users a disservice *before* Covid. It’s adversarial from the start,” one user named Kevin Fox wrote to Conrad Wednesday.
Conrad replied, “No intention to be adversarial. Just a small team that didn’t get everything done for 1.0. Making good on this now; lots of other cool things still to come.”
Another Quibi user, AppTopia founder Eliran Sapir, argued on Twitter that Chromecast should have been completed first. Conrad responded and indicated that the Apple integration was easier and faster to complete.
“AirPlay was something we could get to fast,” Conrad responded. “Chromecast next. Paying attention to all the feedback though… Thanks.”
Sure we designed Quibi for on-the-go, but these days visiting the family room is like a day trip… so AirPlay support is live for iOS in Quibi 1.3. Working hard on Chromecast too which will be available in June.
— Tom Conrad (@tconrad) May 26, 2020