It’s on our computers, our TVs and even our iPads – but until today, the popular subscription movie rental service Netflix had yet to come to the “small screen” that is the iPhone. After much anticipation, Netflix has finally released its iPhone app, allowing subscribed users to instantly stream select movies and TV shows straight to their devices (iPod Touch too!) using either WiFi or 3G.
What a glorious day! Right? Well, mostly. The Netflix app is great in that it does allow users to stream a whole bunch of movies and TV shows wherever they are (at a pretty decent quality level, even on 3G, I might add). But the app is still lacking in some areas.
After signing in, users will be brought to a home screen that features recommendations in various genres – much like the homepage on the Netflix website. Across the bottom are four buttons: Home, Genres, Search and Instant Queue. Each do what you would expect – browse genres, search for titles, and view your instant queue.
One of my biggest complaints (and yes I’m nitpicking) is that the app displays shows and movies in a very large format along with the artwork. This may be great for on the web, but on the iPhone it becomes a waste of space. One screen displays fewer than three titles at once, which leads to a lot of scrolling, especially if you have a large queue of titles. What’s more, I feel like I can’t get the app to scroll at full velocity – so it takes even longer than it should.
Another big fail? No queue management for the physical discs you receive in the mail. This app is all about streaming and streaming only. I would really like to be able to add discs to my BluRay queue without logging into the Netflix homepage, but I can’t, at least not with this app.
Some other small gripes along these lines? There is no indicator of how far down a list you are (which in iOS is usually denoted by that small pebble along the right side of the screen), so you can never be sure just how far you are from the top or bottom. Additionally, most apps allow you to jump back to the top of a list by tapping the very top menu of the phone (where the clock is). Netflix does not.
So make sure you crack your knuckles and stretch your scrolling finger, because this app calls for a lot of it. Actually, you might be better off just searching for whatever you’re looking for, it will take less time. The app does remember (most of the time) where you left off in the last thing you watched, whether it was on your computer, on your iPhone or any other Netflix portal, so that helps as well.
But hey, that’s all a small price to pay to stream TV and movies to your iPhone with a free, albeit mediocre, app. Oh, and sorry “fandroids” but you’ll have to wait a bit longer to stream Netflix to your devices.