Mentioned within an official blog post earlier today, Netflix announced a redesigned version of the Xbox 360 interface that now includes more extensive gesture and voice control in conjunction with the Kinect accessory. Subscribers of Netflix can put down the controller and search for content with voice commands as well as scroll through the box art with gestures. According to Netflix, the redesigned interface allows users to browse up to three times the amount of titles on a high definition screen compared to the previous layout of the application. Other improvements to the application includes interaction with ratings, subtitle settings and related title suggestions. The Netflix application is also tied into the universal search function for the Xbox 360, assuming the Xbox 360 owner is also subscribed to Xbox Live.
Also announced in the upgrade, the Netflix application supports adaptive video streaming to constantly adjust the quality of the picture based on changes in bandwidth. Videos play up to 720p resolution and also include Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound support. However, the application does not support 1080p streaming yet. This leaves the Xbox 360 at a disadvantage to the PlayStation 3 as well as set-top box devices like the Roku 2 XS. Streaming in 1080p resolution has been available on the PlayStation 3 since October 2010. The new version of the application also doesn’t support Dolby Digital Plus, a codec that’s often touted by Dolby as being more efficient in delivering data.
The Netflix application can be downloaded for free within the Xbox Live dashboard, but requires the standard $7.99 a month fee for access to streaming movies and television shows. If the Netflix application was already installed previous to the dashboard update, the new version will be automatically installed with the main update to the user interface. Netflix also announced that the application is now available to Xbox 360 owners in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico since Xbox Live memberships have been extended to those countries.