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HBO Max picks up one of Netflix's best features, but there's a catch

Hbo Max Sign In Fire
HBO Max sign-in page (Image credit: Keegan Prosser / Android Central)

Update: HBO Max says it "hopes" to bring the shuffle play button to mobile and smart TVs in the future.

What you need to know

  • HBO Max has introduced a new shuffle play button akin to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video's features.
  • It works by randomly playing episodes from any of the 45 shows supported by the feature.
  • The new capability is available on desktops for the time being.

Since its launch early last year (opens in new tab), Netflix's "play something" button has been a boon for many subscribers who can't decide which shows to watch. Fortunately for HBO Max (opens in new tab) users, a similar capability has just arrived.

According to Deadline (opens in new tab), HBO Max's shuffle play button is available on its desktop version worldwide. It remains unclear whether this feature will make its way to smart TVs and mobile devices, including the best Android phones (opens in new tab).

Android Central reached out to HBO Max's parent company, Warner Media, for a statement, but it's not immediately available as of this writing.

The new feature is similar to Netflix's "play something" button in terms of convenience for indecisive viewers. There are, however, a few distinctions. The HBO Max version only shuffles episodes, not entire series or movies.

"Unlike other offerings, the HBO Max shuffle button randomizes episodes rather than series, giving users some context into the content they will be shown," an HBO Max representative told TechCrunch.

When tapped, Netflix's button also starts playing a TV show or movie from your watchlist or based on your viewing history. On the other hand, HBO Max's new capability is available only on 45 shows for the time being. The full list is as follows:

  • A World of Calm
  • Adventure Time
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • Apple & Onion
  • Chappelle Show
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog
  • Craig of the Creek
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Ed, Ed and Eddy
  • ER
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Fresh Prince
  • Friends
  • Full House
  • Great Pottery Throwdown
  • Hot Ones
  • How It Really Happened
  • Impractical Jokers
  • Key and Peele
  • Looney Tunes
  • Martin
  • Mike & Molly
  • Regular Show
  • Reno 911!
  • Rick & Morty
  • Robot Chicken
  • Scooby-Do, Where Are You!
  • Selena + Chef
  • Sesame Street
  • South Park
  • Teen Titans Go!
  • The Amazing World of Gumball
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Boondocks
  • The Mentalist
  • The Middle
  • The Nanny
  • The Office
  • The Shot: Uninterrupted
  • Tom and Jerry
  • Total Dramarama
  • Two and a Half Men
  • We Bare Bears
  • Whose Line is it Anyway
  • Young Sheldon

While it's remarkably different from Netflix's implementation, HBO Max's new button resembles a similar feature in Amazon Prime Video's Android app (opens in new tab).

The service noted that it's one of its most requested features. It comes in handy when you just want to watch TV shows where asynchronous character arcs and narrative development don't matter significantly.

Update March 28, 2022 1:51pm

In an email to Android Central, an HBO Max representative confirmed that the shuffle button is rolling out on desktop only. That said, the service isn't entirely ruling out the possibility of adding support for other platforms in the future.

"We will monitor usage and hope to expand the offering on tablet, mobile, and connected TVs down the road," HBO Max said. "We will evaluate titles on an ongoing basis."

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.