Sling TV’s new app has one big problem

When Sling TV started teasing a new version of its app last week, it looked like a major step up for the live streaming service.

Sling’s interface has always felt a bit crusty, especially compared to slicker live TV services like YouTube TV and FuboTV. The update, which is rolling out now on Amazon Fire TV devices and and heading to other platforms throughout the year, gives Sling a more modern look, simpler menus, and a some new navigation features.

Now that I’ve had a chance to try the new Sling app myself, I can confirm that it’s a big improvement. There’s just one problem: The pre-release version I’ve been testing is excruciatingly slow. Hopefully that’ll change before Sling rolls it out to its regular subscribers.

A fresh coat of paint

While Sling has upgraded its interface a few times before—most recently with a slicker look on Apple TV devices—the latest changes are more fundamental.

Sling has replaced its top menu tabs with a left sidebar, and it uses varying thumbnail sizes to break up the monotony as you’re scrolling along. Text is bigger and brighter, the new deep-blue background looks less drab than the old gray, and the app uses more rounded edges throughout. I also like the use of icons to distinguish between live and recorded programs, along the way Sling explains its recommendations with phrases like “Trending” and “You Might Like.” Overall, everything’s a lot easier to read and understand.

Sling has also made some big improvements to each of its menu sections:

  • The home screen has more of a focus on what’s new, highlighting your most-watched channels, recent recordings, and upcoming shows you might want to record.
slinghomehoriz Jared Newman / IDG

New Sling TV app on the left, old app on the right. (Click to enlarge.)

  • The grid guide has one-click commands to mark channels as favorites or record individual programs, and each channel expands to show program information when you highlight it. Sling has also trimmed its list of channel filters, so they all fit in a set of tabs at the top of the screen.
slingguidehoriz Jared Newman / IDG

New Sling TV app on the left, old app on the right. (Click to enlarge.)

  • Sling…