One of the most popular uses for mobile devices is to enjoy videos, films and TV shows, so it should come as no surprise that one of the world’s most popular streaming services, Netflix, is available on Windows Phones.
While the possibility of an official YouTube app continues to remain unlikely, Netflix has continued its blanket approach to be available on every single operating system available (except Linux) and deliver streamed movies and TV shows to their subscribers. These aims are noble of course – but how do they weigh up in practice? Does Netflix make Windows Phone a genuine media streaming device, or is it a case of “wait until you get home” to catch up with your favourite shows?
What Is Netflix?
If you’re somehow unaware of Netflix, it is a video streaming service that operates under a monthly subscription ($x or £5.99 in the UK) offering over 35,000 titles in classic and recent TV and movie genres. Everything from Zombieland to Barney the Dinosaur can be found, with plenty more in between!
While there is a subscription required to use the service, the first month is free. The app itself is also free, which means you get a free ride for a month. If you’re really into your TV and movies, you might even manage to enjoy the entire catalogue in that time, but I doubt it…
Signing up to Netflix is something you can do online, or you can do so via this link to sign up on the login page, visible when you launch the app.
Once logged in you will be presented with an index of shows and movies to choose from. If you already use Netflix in your desktop browser, your Xbox 360 or other games console or tablet, you’ll see your recently watched shows listed under the Home tab.
A Pleasing User Interface
The user interface for Netflix follows the standard scroll-and-swipe pattern for Windows Phone apps. It is styled to use the Metro/Modern user interface, with subheadings placed under the Home tab that open new screens with more complete show and movie lists.
Tapping the back button from a sublist with return you to the main interface; the same is true when tapping back from a movie. Other tabs – reached by swiping left and right – will display Genres and open a Search box from where you will be able to query the entire Netflix database.
Video playback will offer a pause/play button and a progress bar. The latter can be dragged to reveal thumbnails of scenes that can be skipped to.
Easy of Use, Simple to Enjoy
Selecting a movie or TV show to view is easy – choose the title, the episode (if appropriate) and the video will start streaming. Quality isn’t HD, but it is high quality. One of the best things about Netflix is its bookmarks – the ability to it will continue watching a video on another device.
For instance, for this review I’m watching the children’s show Charlie and Lola which my own children were watching earlier on our games console, but was stopped part way through for breakfast. Netflix enables me to pick up the show at exactly the same point. This is particularly ideal for movies of complex/involved TV serials.
The library of apps for Windows Phone keeps on growing, but Netflix will probably remain in my own top 10 favourites for some time to come. Simplifying everything that you get with the browser-based version and overcoming the lack of Flash Player problem on Windows Phone (something that seems to be less of a problem across mobile platforms as time goes on), the Netflix app does exactly what you would expect.
While you might fancy playing videos that you have stored on your PC after compressing them and syncing them to your phone, Netflix adds a vital new dimension to mobile enjoyment of movies and TV shows on Windows Phone, and as a result is unmissable.