Mobile video is taking off, especially due to high-quality video streams available over increasingly fast LTE mobile networks. The only problem is that most users have wireless plans that include a limited amount of data usage — usually just 2GB or 5GB per month. Since movies can quickly run up data usage, mobile viewers are in a bit of a catch-22: They can now watch mobile video at almost the same speed and quality on wireless networks as is available over WiFi, but doing so could potentially mean lots of icky overage charges, generally at the rate of about $10 per extra GB used.
Netflix is one of those services that is forced to navigate that mobile video paradox. Up until recently, its iOS app would stream video to users regardless of their connection, which could drive up data costs for consumers if they weren’t watching their data usage closely. With that in mind, the latest update to the Netflix iOS app now lets 4G and LTE iPad owners limit streaming so that they can only access the service when connected to a WiFi network.
The new WiFi setting is part of a larger redesign of the iOS app, which also includes a pretty massive update to the Netflix player. The new player design adds a more consistent look and feel across Netflix’s mobile applications, and provides larger, easier-to-use play controls for watching on tablets and mobile devices. It also adds thumbnail images that users can see when scrolling back and forth with the scrub bar, as well as easier access to audio and subtitle features. And for subscribers in Canada — where Netflix has integrated with Facebook Open Graph so that users can share what they’re watching with friends — the app has a more visible “do not share” option.
The latest update to the Netflix iPad app comes as the video streaming service continues to expand its device footprint, with its app available on more than 800 connected devices. The company said in a blog post to expect updates to other mobile apps — including those on Android devices — soon.