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Does Netflix on your Android device either not work, or not work properly? If so, you might benefit from using a hacked version of the Netflix installable file, also known as an APK file. This article covers two modified versions of Netflix for Android, from XDA developers, that can solve a lot of your video watching woes: One employs customizable backgrounds, fixed subtitles and enables autorotation while playing video. The other allows for higher definition quality video.
However, before installing, you will need to set your phone to use files from outside the Play Store.
How To Install from Unknown Sources in Android
Because none of these apps are official builds, you’ll first need to enable third party apps. To do so, simply navigate to your phone’s Settings -> Security -> and then check the box for “Unknown sources”. Be aware that while I personally tested and scanned both apps, you install them at your own risk.
After configuring your system to accept unknown sources, download one of the modified APKs for Netflix from XDA-Developers, found below. My preferred method of installation uses Dropbox to push the APK to the handset, freeing you up from initiating a file transfer over the USB cable. This process is known as sideloading. However, if you so choose, you can transfer the file through USB. Also be aware that you will need to uninstall previous versions of Netflix to get these modded files working.
Without further ado, here are the two modded Netflix apps:
Netflix APK with Autorotation, Custom Background and Large Subtitles
Several issues plague Netflix on Android. First, it has tiny subtitles, optimized for a tiny handset screen. Second, it lacks autorotation, automatically flipping on landscape mode. Third, it only comes in basic red, which the aesthetically inclined may dislike if the theme doesn’t match their phone (well, I’m sure at least one person on Earth cares about that).
To resolve these issues, XDA user Dblfstr actually made a better Netflix app than the one provided through official sources. Unfortunately, it’s not for everyone: Some devices simply can’t run Netflix. Other devices might not even permit installation via sideloading. However, those of you with compatible devices can enjoy the modified app’s tweaks and improvements.
For example, after installation you will notice immediately that the app’s splash screen no longer appears red and that there’s an improved subtitle menu.
Here’s the red, default screen side-by-side with the modified black screen:
Additionally, the modded app includes support for rotation while playing video and oversized subtitles. Both of these features improve the viewing experience while outputting over HDMI to a high definition television.
In short, if you’re dissatisfied with the default Netflix app’s bland color, crappy subtitles and lack of autorotation, this software is designed specifically for you.
High Definition Netflix on Android
XDA user Keychar modified a Netflix APK to permit higher quality video playback on portable devices. This is particularly helpful for when you’re outputting the video to a high definition television or when you have an HD-capable device like the Samsung Galaxy S4, as the default Android app caps video quality at a fairly low bitrate.
You can see the difference in picture quality only somewhat on a phone. On a larger screen it’s a bit more noticeable.
Here’s the mobile version:
Here’s the “high definition” version:
Judging from these screenshots, it’s not really all that much improved. You can see the differences more clearly in these screenshots. In my opinion, if you compare the larger screenshots to each other, the quality difference is quite obvious, but unless you’re using your Android device to output the video to a high definition screen, there’s less of a reason to install the hack.
Modified Netflix apps can really improve the Netflix experience on your Android device. They can add better subtitles, autorotation and customization options as well as improving Netflix’s video quality. Overall, the modifications coming out of XDA make the Netflix app much more palatable on smaller screens. If you’re outputting to a television, then these mods are absolutely necessary.
For other tips on improving Netflix’s video quality, Christian wrote a great piece on the subject. In a nutshell, Christian advocates tweaking Silverlight’s settings as well as troubleshooting other computers on your network. His tips will help, if you have playback issues.
Anyone else love watching Netflix on their Android handset? Please share in the comments.