Hulu redesigns its mobile app for better discovery

At this year’s CES event, Hulu announced plans to trial an updated version of its user interface that would do away with the confusing landing page called “Lineup.” At the time, the company said it was considering both a “Hulu Picks” option or an “Unwatched in My Stuff” screen as a replacement for “Lineup.” Today, Hulu’s new interface is rolling out across iOS and Android devices, the company says, and “Lineup” is gone.

The Hulu interface launched in 2017 was not always well-liked — something Hulu had acknowledged after a complaint became the most upvoted item on Hulu’s customer feedback forums a couple of years ago. Users felt the interface was too difficult to navigate and the layout was confusing, among other things.

Some of Hulu’s challenges were around the fact that it was trying to merge an on-demand library with a live TV service, while also finding room to promote its original content.

But some of its other design choices were just odd — like its decision to make a single piece of content the main focus for many of its screens, for example. Meanwhile, its landing page “Lineup” never really made sense, either. Its name hinted at some form of personalization, but instead, it was more often filled with suggestions of what Hulu was promoting, like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The updated iOS interface ditches “Lineup,” and replaces it with “Hulu Picks.”

This is more clearly a collection of things to watch that’s curated by Hulu staff, rather than algorithmically derived by user viewing behavior.

Image from iOS 7

However, the other landing page Hulu had been considering, “Unwatched in My Stuff,” is still available just a few swipes over.

While Hulu still gives a single piece of content the focus on its main screens on the iPhone, it’s now easier to see there’s more content available if you swipe down, as the top of the next item’s card is peeking up from the bottom of the screen.

On the smartphone, this means you can see two items at a time. On iPad, you can see two rows totaling six cards on the app’s main screen when in landscape mode.

Image from iOS 8

This same format applies not only to “Hulu Picks,” but also to neighboring screens like “Live Now,” “Unwatched in My Stuff,” “My Channels” and the genre-based sections like “Sports,” “News,” “TV,” “Movies,” “Kids,” “Hulu Originals” and others.

Only the “Keep Watching” screen retains the more traditional thumbnails.

This seems like a small change, but it goes a long way to increase the discoverability of Hulu content, as it reduces how many times you have to swipe to see more suggestions.

Image from iOS 6

Other changes touted at CES, like adding expanded metadata next to content (genre, rating, year) or the ability to mark content as “unwatched,” haven’t made an appearance. (Plenty of items still lack a rating). The 14-day live TV guide mentioned at CES isn’t available on iOS, either.

Hulu didn’t publicly announce the launch of the iOS redesign, but did confirm it’s rolling out now, only to mobile devices. They said other devices will get the update “soon.”

Update: Hulu says the update is coming to Android as well, but it’s only in A/B testing at present. The post has been updated since publication.

Update, 9/2/19, 4 PM ET: Hulu says the update is now officially rolling out to Android.