We noticed an update to Netflix’s iPhone app last night in what we thought could have been a test by the video streaming service. But today, Netflix has made its update official. If you log onto your Netflix iPhone app, you’ll recognize that its now identical to the Netflix iPad app, albeit on a smaller screen.
As in the previous version of the Netflix app, users can resume watching a video that they may have not finished, but now you’ll find that you can scroll through the panel of thumbnails from right to left to view all the videos that you may have paused in the middle of watching the show. Before the update, only the last viewed show could be resumed.
The most noticeable change to the interface is the volume of content that you can scroll through using the same right to left (and vice versa) motion. Netflix has finally done away with an interface that stacked single titles on top of each other, allowing for only three shows to be displayed at a time on an iPhone. At the same time, a title’s supplementary information, like number of episodes, star rating, date of release, and TV parental guidelines, have been wiped away. Instead you can scroll through thumbnail images of videos recommended by Netflix based on genre, popularity, and what Netflix believes you’d be interested in watching, similar to the Web version of Netflix so many of us are used to.
Navigation in the app has been whittled down to just two buttons. The “Browse” button in the top left hand corner, and the “Search” button on the opposite side. “Browse” breaks down recommendations based on overarching genres and its subcategories. For example, the “Children & Family” gallery will open up a page where you can select titles for children to watch based on that child’s age.
The refreshed Netflix iPhone app provides users with a cleaner look and it’s a welcome change for those of us that prefer a robust set of recommendation categories, which the former version failed to deliver.
The app is currently available in the App Store or as an update for the iPhone and iPod Touch (you must at least be running iOS 5). Android users, on the other hand, will have to wait for the update. “For our members on Android phones, please stay tuned. We will be releasing a new Netflix experience for Android phones soon,” Chris Jaffe, Director of Product Innovation at Netflix, wrote in Netflix’s blog.
With the iPhone 5 set to begin selling on September 21, Netflix will be addressing the larger screen size with an iPhone 5 optimized version.
You can check out the video describing Netflix’s refreshed iPhone app below.