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Apple may finally let Android users watch TV+ shows in an app

Apple has placed a job ad for a senior Android engineer, in a signal that its walled garden strategy may soon have to change. The new recruit will work on an Apple TV app for Google’s mobile platform.

The ad, which inexplicably calls the platform “android” with a lower-case A in three out of five instances, says the Apple TV app team “is looking for a proactive, hardworking and experienced senior android [sic] engineer to lead the development of fun new features, and to help build an application used by millions to watch and discover tv [sic] and sports.”

There has technically been an Android TV+ app before now–the Chromecast version of the service runs on Android–but this appears to be something more squarely aimed at mobile users. The base pay for the role ranges from $131,500 to $243,300 depending on skills, qualifications, experience, and location.

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman first spotted the ad. “The move,” he notes, “suggests that the company is looking to gain market share in video streaming—and is setting aside its rivalry with Android in order to chase additional users.”

It’s debatable, however, whether the hunt for subscribers or the desire to avoid regulatory intervention is more of a factor in the move. As Gurman points out, the vast Android user base would enable Apple to access many more potential subscribers to its streaming service, which by most measures remains small in comparison with Disney+ and Netflix.

But the company may also be motivated by wanting to amend the troubling optics of only allowing users of its own mobile platform to easily access the service in light of escalating attempts by lawmakers to bring tech monopolies to heel. Android users can obviously access Apple TV+ on their devices, but the experience is inferior to Apple devices and requires using Apple’s web portal.

Most famously, Apple has tried to preserve the integrity of its “walled garden” product ecosystem by restricting iMessage to Apple users, and by limiting that service’s compatibility with other platforms: Android users are frequently ostracised for the negative effect of their green bubbles in group chats. Lawmakers’ patience with this strategy finally ran out last year, and their pressure induced Apple to pledge that it will implement RCS support and make life easier for Android users.

Apple may be hoping to avoid more such embarrassing defeats in the future, which would also explain why it released a number of Windows apps earlier this year, as Gurman observes. And if a few million Android fans sign up for TV+ along the way, that’s a bonus.