Apple has updated its Apple TV app for Android TV and Google TV devices this week and has removed the ability to make purchases within the app. While all content within the app is still available, trying to purchase, rent, or subscribe to anything now informs you to make the transaction on a mobile device first. According to John Gruber on Daring Fireball, this change is due to the expiration of a special exemption given by Google to Apple to bypass in-app purchase fees.
When the Apple TV app first arrived on Google TV devices just over a year ago, it was strange that the app allowed direct purchases within the app. For comparison, when the Apple TV app arrived on the Fire TV, it did not allow any purchases and never has. We now know that Google, essentially, gave Apple a free pass for a year by not imposing the same in-app purchase restrictions it applies to all other Play Store apps, which require that Google take a 30% cut of all purchases. Now that the 1-year free pass has ended, the Apple TV app on Android TV and Google TV devices behaves the same way it does on Fire TV devices.
The Apple TV app arrived on Google TV devices nearly a year and a half after it arrived on Fire TV devices. That always seemed strange since both platforms are very similar, so you would have thought that the two would be released simultaneously. My guess is that the delay had more to do with business agreements between Google and Apple than technical issues between the app and the streaming platform. To my knowledge, Google has never given any app an exemption to bypass in-app purchase fees, so it might have been the only way to finally get Apple to release Apple TV on Google’s streaming devices.