Netflix Updates Console, SmartTV App With New Interface
November 13, 2013

Netflix Updates Console, Smart TV App With New Interface

Enid Burns for – Your Universe Online

Netflix has introduced a new design to the TV interface that customers see when they log in on a TV with a streaming device such as a Blu-ray player, PlayStation, Xbox 360 or Smart TV. The new design took a year and a half to develop, test and roll out.

The new design mainly enhances how shows and movies are presented to users, as well as advanced search functions that make it easier for subscribers to search by show or movie titles, actors and directors. The update provides a cinematic and rich visual experience upon startup. Searches also return a richer experience. Three large images for each show or movie offer more context. Netflix is adding a shorter, more descriptive synopsis of each TV show and movie, plus better descriptions and images for specific episodes so the user can better decide which episode to watch. A larger synopsis is available within the details of a movie or a show profile.

The three-image slideshow is one factor that helps make the new experience more visual and intuitive.

"We want discovery to be richer," said Chris Jaffee, vice president of product innovation at Netflix, quoted in a USA Today article. "I knew one of my persona frustrations was I felt like today's Netflix experience didn't give me enough reasons why I should watch this versus that."

Search and discovery has been an issue for users who access Netflix using the TV interface, which typically lacks a QWERTY keyboard and pointer device.

"Today Netflix is taking a big step towards tackling that problem with a faster, more engaging television interface that will put a majority of its living room customers on the same page -- and let them stay that way," The Verge's Bryan Bishop wrote.

Social components are also tied into the new TV interface. Subscribers will get personalized information that includes recommendations based on social network activity, viewing history and taste preferences.

Early experiences with the new interface have been positive. The Verge's Bishop was able to test the new interface using his PlayStation 3 for the past week. "When paired with the automatic My List ranking the experience is like parking your TV on a glossy, high-end station that's programmed just for you," he wrote.

Kids, as well as parents, benefit from the new offering. The newly designed children’s area features a subtle blue background and subtle kids label. The visuals allow parents to identify that their kids are viewing appropriate content, and not accessing another family member's profile.

Family members each get their own login, which offers a catered experience to each individual. That change was instituted in August.

The new design will become available on devices that access Netflix accounts such as Roku, Smart TV, Blu-ray players, PlayStation and Xbox 360. Updates will start as soon as November 13, and Netflix expects it to take roughly two weeks to reach all devices. Some recent Smart TVs and Blu-ray players will depend on updates from the manufacturer in order to appreciate the new interface. Roku users will not see the changes until some time next year.