Netflix announced today that it’s now rolling out its first major update to its TV applications since late 2013. Unlike last month’s upgrade to the Netflix website, however, the TV app experience isn’t really getting a significant overall, but rather just a small tweak.
Now, when you select a title you want to watch, it will immediately resume or start playing while displaying the key info you need to help you confirm your choice – meaning the title, description, the episode number, your viewing progress, and more.
This is the same interface you would have seen before clicking to start or resume a show or movie, but it’s now saving you from having to make that click.
According to Netflix, the idea is to provide a “more immersive and cinematic experience,” and the company says that bringing video playback into the content selection process also makes it easier to find something to watch.
I’m not sure all viewers will agree on that latter point. Though it does seem a handy feature when you’re resuming a title you hadn’t yet finished, it’s not always the case that you’ll want to immediately begin streaming any title you click on. Sometimes, you just want to read more about it, or add an item to your Netflix Watchlist for later viewing.
But as a feature for Netflix TV apps versus, say, mobile apps, it makes more sense. Having titles start playing right away makes Netflix feel more like traditional TV, rather than the on-demand service it actually is. It also brings to mind the channel-surfing nature of using cable TV.
In addition, Netflix tells us that anyone running the Netflix user interface it published back in November 2013 will receive this update, too, which it expects everyone to receive in less than a week. The 2013 upgrade was a much larger makeover of the TV application than today’s update, and it wasn’t limited to smart TVs. It also delivered an upgraded feature set to Roku devices, gaming consoles and Blu-ray players.