Netflix Tests Pop-Out Picture-in-Picture Player on Desktop

Netflix is testing a new pop-out picture-in-picture feature that's designed to let Netflix users watch videos in a small floating box that hovers above other applications, reports Engadget.

The pop-out player allows users to click a small icon at the bottom of the screen. Once the pop-out window appears, it can be resized and positioned anywhere on a computer's display.

Image via Engadget

The pop-out player is designed to stay on top of whatever else you're doing on your computer, and it can be closed by clicking the X in the player, choosing Back to Browse, or closing the Netflix tab. Subtitles are not currently supported in the pop-out browser.

Netflix appears to be testing the feature with a limited number of users at the current time, and Netflix has yet to announce the feature. Netflix did confirm to Engadget that the pop-out player is "only a test" in an image, so it's not clear when and if the player will roll out to additional users.

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Netflix Testing ‘Extras’ Tab in Mobile App With Feed of Photos and Videos Similar to Instagram

Netflix is testing a new feature in its mobile apps for iOS and Android, which aggregates trailers and photos for its various shows and movies in a feed that looks very similar to Instagram. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the test in an email seen by Variety.

Image by Janko Roettgers via Variety

For the users in the test, they will see a new tab on the mobile Netflix app called "Extras." In this tab, users can scroll vertically to see new posts about Netflix originals like Stranger Things, Chambers, and See You Yesterday. Videos in the feed play automatically (without sound), and image galleries can be scrolled horizontally, just like on Instagram.

Posts in the Extras feed include options to share the content with friends, add the film or TV show to your Netflix list, and even remind you when the content launches if it's not out yet. Netflix said that this is all a way to "help fans connect more deeply with the titles they love."

Netflix has been inspired by other social media platforms in the past, last year updating its mobile apps with Stories-like "preview" bubbles that users can tap through to watch vertical trailers of Netflix originals. You can even post directly to Instagram Stories from Netflix thanks to a new integration that launched earlier this year.

But, like with any test, Netflix warned that the new Extras tab may not launch to everyone and could be scrapped.

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Netflix Gains High-Quality Audio

Netflix today announced a new feature for its streaming TV and movie service, high-quality audio, which Netflix says takes its sound quality "to another level."

High-quality audio is designed to provide audio that more closely matches with what creators hear in the studio, resulting in a "richer, more intense experience."


Netflix's audio bitrate now goes up to 640 kb/s on devices supporting 5.1 surround sound and 768 kb/s for devices that support Dolby Atmos. For the improved Dolby Atmos sound, a Netflix Premium subscription is required.
Most TV devices that support 5.1 or Dolby Atmos are capable of receiving better sound. Depending on your device and bandwidth capabilities, the bitrate you receive may vary:

5.1: From 192 kbps (good) up to 640 kbps (great/perceptually transparent)

Dolby Atmos: From 448 kbps up to 768 kbps (Dolby Atmos is available for members subscribed to the Premium plan)
For those with bandwidth or device limitations, the high-quality audio feature is adaptive, so it will provide the best possible audio to match your device or connection's capabilities.

Netflix says its new bitrates will "evolve over time" as its encoding techniques get more efficient.

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Netflix Testing ‘Random Episode’ Button for the Times When You Can’t Decide What to Watch

Netflix has begun testing a new feature on mobile that allows select users to "Play a Popular Episode" of certain TV shows, without having to scroll through and pick which one they want to watch. As spotted by Android Police, the test only appears to be on the Android app as of now.

Images via Android Police

Additionally, users have noticed that in the playback controls of a TV show, there is a new "Random Episode" button. With this feature you would be able to shuffle around within the TV show you're already watching, which would be useful for people who watch their favorite shows repeatedly and don't necessarily need to see everything in order.

As with all tests, it's unclear if Netflix will ever launch these features to a wide audience on both Android and iOS devices, or other platforms. If you're on Android, the random episode test is on v7.6.0 build 19 34157 of the Netflix Android app.

Netflix will be gaining competition in the streaming market later this year when Apple TV+ and Disney+ launch, but the company has said that it isn't worried about these launches because of the "differing nature" of the content on offer. The company is also ramping up original content production, which means a price hike to $12.99/month for the popular HD streaming plan for all users beginning in May.

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Netflix Not Concerned With New Streaming Services Coming From Apple and Disney

Netflix isn't worried about the upcoming Disney+ and Apple TV+ streaming services from Disney and Apple, respectively, the company said today in its Q1 2019 earnings report. [PDF]

In the document, Netflix says that it's "excited" to compete with Apple and Disney, and that it does not feel that the new services will affect Netflix's growth because of the "differing nature" of the content offerings.


Netflix says all streaming services will continue to grow as the market transitions away from the traditional cable viewing.
Recently, Apple and Disney each unveiled their direct-to-consumer subscription video services. Both companies are world class consumer brands and we're excited to compete; the clear beneficiaries will be content creators and consumers who will reap the rewards of many companies vying to provide a great video experience for audiences.

We don't anticipate that these new entrants will materially affect our growth because the transition from linear to on demand entertainment is so massive ​and because of the differing nature of our content offerings​. We believe we'll all continue to grow as we each invest more in content and improve our service and as consumers continue to migrate away from linear viewing (similar to how US cable networks collectively grew for years as viewing shifted from broadcast networks during the 1980s and 1990s).
According to Netflix, there is "vast demand" for watching "great TV and movies," with Netflix satisfying only a small portion of the demand. Netflix says that its streaming hours in the United States represent roughly 10 percent of total TV usage, giving it plenty of room to grow. Netflix also sees growth opportunities in other countries and on other devices like mobile.

In its quarterly earnings report, Netflix reported $4.52 billion in revenue, beating analyst estimates.

Both Apple and Disney are set to launch new streaming services this fall. Apple has not provided specific details on launch timing or pricing, but Disney recently said its new service, Disney+, will come out on November 12 and will cost $6.99 per month, well below what Netflix is charging.

Disney and Apple are investing huge amounts of money into original programming for their streaming services, and Apple has more than two dozen original TV shows and movies in the works.

Netflix recently increased its pricing. It costs $8.99 for a basic non-HD streaming plan, $12.99 for an HD streaming plan, and $15.99 for a "Premium" UHD streaming plan. Netflix also controversially ended AirPlay streaming support on Apple's iOS devices, citing Apple's plans to expand AirPlay to third-party devices and an inability to determine which AirPlay device is which as a reason why.

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Netflix Warning Grandfathered Customers About Monthly Price Hike Coming in May

In January, Netflix announced that it was raising the prices for all of its subscription tiers, making the popular "Standard" tier increase from $10.99/month to $12.99/month. This change took effect immediately for new customers signing up for Netflix, while existing customers were grandfathered into their prices for a limited time.


That time is now almost up, as Netflix has begun emailing grandfathered customers on the day of their subscription renewal, warning them that their monthly subscription cost will be going up in May. A warning will also appear within the Netflix mobile app. This change affects all tiers: the cheap "Basic" tier will rise from $7.99 to $8.99/month, the popular HD "Standard" tier will rise from $10.99 to $12.99/month, and the 4K "Premium" tier will rise from $13.99 to $15.99/month.

In the email, Netflix says that this price hike is required to improve the service so that subscribers can have "even more" TV shows and movies to enjoy. Netflix has been quickly increasing the amount of original content on its service as third parties remove their films and TV shows and create their own streaming platforms, like Disney has done for its upcoming service Disney+. In order to fund all of the original productions, subscription costs have now increased for all Netflix users.
We hope you have been enjoying your Netflix membership. We are writing to let you know about an upcoming change. Your monthly price is increasing to $12.99 on Thursday, May 9th 2019. Why? We’re hard at work improving Netflix so that you can have even more great TV shows and movies to enjoy.

Here’s to watching what you want, when you want, where you want. You can change your plan, or if you do not wish to continue your membership, as always you can cancel any time at netflix.com/cancel.
We're here to help if you need it. Visit the Help Center for more info or contact us.

–The Netflix Team
This new price hike represents a jump of between 13 percent and 18 percent, which is Netflix's biggest price increase since it launched streaming 12 years ago. According to a CNBC report, Netflix will also use the extra cash to finance debt that it's recently taken on to "ward off streaming threats" from rivals like Apple, which just revealed its Apple TV+ streaming service that's set to launch later in 2019.

As of 2019, this is the fourth price hike for Netflix subscribers in the streaming service's history. The HD Standard tier was priced at $7.99/month, rose to $8.99/month in 2014, and then to $9.99/month in 2016, when CEO Reed Hastings reported an "unexpected" loss of subscribers due to the hike. In November 2017 the tier rose to $10.99/month, and now it will be priced at $12.99/month.

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Netflix App for iOS No Longer Supports AirPlay Because of ‘Technical Limitations’

The Netflix app for iPhone and iPad no longer appears to support AirPlay, based on an updated support document found on the Netflix website.

According to Netflix, AirPlay is no longer supported on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch due to "technical limitations." There are no details from Netflix on what those technical limitations might be.


Several MacRumors readers have attempted to use AirPlay with the Netflix app over the course of the last few days and have run into issues doing so from the Netflix app.

AirPlay can still be initiated using the Control Center on an iOS device, but when attempting to test the feature, we were unable to get Netflix content to play and received an error message.


It's not clear why AirPlay support has been removed from the Netflix app. The feature has been available since 2013 and it was working up until this week.

Netflix apps are available on the Apple TV, consoles, smart TVs, iOS devices, and more, so there's not a real need to use AirPlay to watch Netflix content, but there were instances where it was convenient to use.

Netflix has in recent months been making efforts to better protect its content. In December, Netflix stopped allowing customers to sign up for Netflix within the iOS app, and Netflix has never opted to participate in Apple's TV app, making it unavailable in the "Up Next" feature of Watch Now.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently confirmed that Netflix had no plans to be a part of Apple's TV plans and said that Netflix isn't interested in offering its content in alternate ways. "We want to have people watch our shows on our services," he said.

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Netflix CEO Confirms Netflix Won’t Be Part of Apple’s Upcoming Video Service

Apple is set to unveil its long-rumored TV service next Monday, and ahead of the event, Netflix has confirmed that it won't be participating in Apple's streaming offering.

At a briefing at the company's headquarters in Hollywood, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that while Apple is a "great company," Netflix isn't interested in offering its content on other platforms. "We want to have people watch our shows on our services," he said, according to Recode.


Netflix has never embraced Apple TV features like "Up Next" designed to allow Apple TV users to see all of their watched TV shows at a glance, so it's no surprise to hear that Netflix does not plan to offer its content through Apple's upcoming streaming service.

Set to be launched next week, Apple's TV offering will feature both its original content and add-on content from other cable providers like Showtime and HBO. Apple will allow customers to sign up for subscriptions to third-party services like HBO right within the TV app, which will serve as Apple's TV content hub.

Apple's video hub will be similar to what Amazon offers through its Prime Video app. Amazon provides original TV shows along with options to subscribe to premium content through a Channels feature.

In response to a question about how Netflix will compete with Apple and Amazon going forward, Hastings said the company will do so "with difficulty," though he pointed out that Netflix has already been competing with Amazon for years.

"You do your best job when you have great competitors," he said, before admitting that the increased competition has led to higher prices when sourcing content.

Apple is going to give us a first look at its video service on Monday, March 25, at an event set to be held at its Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. Multiple celebrities that are starring in Apple shows, like Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, and Reese Witherspoon, will be present.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Netflix ‘Doubling Down’ on Interactive TV Shows, Unclear if Any Will Be Available on Apple TV

Netflix plans to output even more interactive television shows similar to the Black Mirror episode "Bandersnatch", but it's unclear as of now if any of these will work on the Apple TV. Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin announced the company's intent to make more interactive content at a conference in Mumbai today (via Variety).


These shows, and potentially movies, will extend beyond the science fiction setting of Black Mirror and could even include romances, comedies, and more, where the audience gets to choose the outcome. Yellin said that the output of these stories will increase over the next two years.
“[Bandersnatch] is a huge hit here in India, it’s a huge hit around the world, and we realized, wow, interactive storytelling is something we want to bet more on,” Yellin said. “We’re doubling down on that. So expect over the next year or two, to see more interactive storytelling. And it won’t necessarily be science fiction, or it won’t necessarily be dark. It could be a wacky comedy. It could be a romance, where the audience gets to choose, should she go out with him or him.”
When "Bandersnatch" released in December 2018, Apple device users had to watch the episode on an iPhone, iPad, or web browser to get the full experience. When selected on the Netflix Apple TV app, a brief apology video would play and point users toward the correct device with which they could watch the episode.

Despite being unavailable on Apple TV, "Bandersnatch" can be viewed on TV streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Android TV. Netflix has launched interactive TV shows before, including "Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale" and "Minecraft: Story Mode." While some of these kids' shows are playable on Apple TV, like Puss in Book, they are linear versions that automatically choose the outcomes for you.

Others, like Minecraft, display an apology message on Apple TV and ask you to visit a supported device to watch the show. Although the Apple TV remote lacks the more complex controls provided by game consoles, computers, and smart TVs, it's unclear why Netflix hasn't figured out a way to get these shows to work on the Apple TV with the Siri Remote.

Still, this isn't the first time Netflix has been at odds with an Apple platform or service, as the streaming company continues to resist support for Apple's TV app. We've reached out to Netflix regarding future support for its interactive shows on the Apple TV, and will update this article if they provide a comment.

Tag: Netflix

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Netflix Launches ‘Smart Downloads’ for Streamlined Access to Offline Content

Netflix today announced the launch of a new Smart Downloads feature that's designed to streamline the process of downloading content for offline viewing.

With Smart Downloads, when you finish viewing an episode of a TV show that you've downloaded, Netflix will delete it and then automatically download the next episode. Smart Downloads is designed to download content only when you're connected to Wi-Fi so it's not using your cellular data plan.


Netflix users can choose to use or disable the Smart Downloads feature, which is available on iOS and Android devices. Turning off Smart Downloads will keep watched content on your device.

On iPhone and iPad, you can tap the Downloads icon, choose "My Downloads" and select "Smart Downloads" to toggle it on or off.

Netflix for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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