Netflix Gets Snazzy New Icon and Under the Hood Fixes via Update

Netflix Gets Snazzy New Icon and Under the Hood Fixes via Update

Jul 1, 2016

Popular streaming application Netflix is receiving an update that’s available now.

The most visible change is fairly apparent; the app is now sporting a whole new icon. The new one has a noticeably darker background.

Per Google Play, the update also includes bug fixes.

The Netflix app remains free to service subscribers.

Netflix gets update, will soon allow subscriptions via Google Play Billing

Netflix gets update, will soon allow subscriptions via Google Play Billing

Apr 27, 2016

Netflix is getting an update, and is teasing an upcoming feature: giving folks the ability to subscribe from within the app.


Bug fixes
Coming soon: Subscribe for Netflix via Google Play Billing (new permission required).

Upon updating, one is required to accept a new permission for in-app purchasing, which is related to the upcoming feature.

The app itself remains free.

Netflix Gets Widget via Update

Netflix Gets Widget via Update

Dec 2, 2015

The Netflix App for Android is getting better usability by way of an update rolling out now.

The soon-to-come call feature is still being teased as well. Directly from the app page:


Android widget – Add the widget to your home screen for easier access to your favorite TV shows and movies.
Coming soon: Call Netflix Help directly from the app (Microphone permission required)

Netflix remains free (with a current subscription) on Google Play.

[via Google Play]

Netflix Gets Updated, Teases Upcoming Feature

Netflix Gets Updated, Teases Upcoming Feature

Nov 2, 2015

Everyone’s favorite streaming movie application, Netflix, is getting an update that is rolling out now. Additionally, the changelog hints at an upcoming feature:


– Updated search experience on tablets
– Easy Share Action in video detail screen
– Bug fixes
Coming soon: Call Netflix Help directly from the app (Microphone permission required)

Netflix remains free (with a subscription) on Google Play.

Netflix Gets Android M Support

Netflix Gets Android M Support

Oct 1, 2015

Netflix is ensuring that its popular mobile streaming service is ready for the newest Android-powered devices with an update that brings Android 6.0 support to its Android application.


Support for Android 6.0
Improved audio experience on certain Bluetooth devices
Bug fixes

Netflix remains free (with a subscription) on Google Play.

Netflix Gets UI Improvements via Update

Netflix Gets UI Improvements via Update

Jun 16, 2015

Netflix for Android is getting an update; the new build brings UI enhancements and bug fixes.

The Netflix app remains free to Netflix subscribers, and is available on Google Play.

Netflix for Android Gets Update

Netflix for Android Gets Update

Dec 13, 2014

Popular streaming entertainment app Netflix is getting an update that is currently rolling out.

According to the Google Play app page, the new build brings the ability to recomment content to Facebook friends when using the app on a smartphone.

Netflix remains free for subscribers to the streaming service.

Netflix Gets Update

Netflix Gets Update

Oct 7, 2014

The Android Netflix app is getting an update.

Per the Google Play app page, the new update brings:

• In-app profile management
• Enhanced visual search results
• Backgrounded playback with notification for quick resume (on select devices only)

The profile feature is a relatively new feature that allows a Netflix account holder to create content-specific sub-accounts via the web; this is useful for households with, say, kids to create a portion dedicated to the children. It’ll be a welcome addition to the mobile app.

Netflix mobile content for Android users remains free on the Play Store for folks with active subscriptions.

Netflix Gets Update, Adds Improved Chromecast Compatibility

Netflix Gets Update, Adds Improved Chromecast Compatibility

Aug 31, 2014

Netflix had just updated the Android version of its streaming application; version 3.7.2 brings improved compatibility with Chromecast, allowing to app to be used better across connected devices.

Netflix continues to be one of the most popular sources of on-demand content, and its drive to acquire and/or produce original content has been a well-received. For those looking to mobilize content consumption, or to source entertainment via mobile devices, it is a great option.

The app — with the current update — is available for free (with subscription) on the Play Store. It is also available on the Amazon AppStore.

Opinion: WhatsApp and Comcast’s Wealthy Acquisitions Show That We Need More Dumb Pipes

Opinion: WhatsApp and Comcast’s Wealthy Acquisitions Show That We Need More Dumb Pipes

Feb 24, 2014

With WhatsApp and Comcast both in the news for being involved in big acquisitions, they may seem like disparate stories. Well, they’re not: both signal the continuing demise of neutral services and universal protocols that anyone can implement. Nobody wants to be a dumb pipe because there’s no money in doing so. And more importantly: there’s lots of money in being proprietary.

It’s hard to fault the creators of WhatsApp for cashing out: $19 billion is a lot of money, especially with their small team. That Snapchat turned down $3 billion looks to be both smart and stupid: smart in that having a lot of users just proved to be extremely valuable and that they could get more at some point, but also in that the most popular guy in school just asked out someone else. Facebook has a large market valuation and fears its irrelevance: it’s what has sunk in plenty of internet titans before them, and becoming a legitimate player in the data messaging category when Facebook Messenger has failed to do so in a meaningful way is a necessary move. Facebook will go down swinging, at least.


But the very need for services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, Kakao and the rest are merely a market inefficiency because SMS is inefficient and expensive: it’s prioritized towards text-first, and carriers make a mint off of it and MMS because they can. But the one thing that SMS has in spite of all its drawbacks is that it’s universal. Anyone with a mobile phone number can send messages to anyone else with a mobile phone number. Well, except for that pesky cost problem. That’s part of why data messaging has been so popular, it jumps over the hurdles of SMS and is often more convenient thanks to availability from tablets and computers.

But all of these over-the-top services have the inherent problem of being fragmented.They’re built solely to talk to one another just through their app. And given the number of competing services out there, you may need to have an app installed just to talk to one person, and many of these services are popular in one locale versus others. Compare all this to the ease of just having one unified inbox of SMS.

And of course, there’s no reason for anyone to build one unified protocol that would work well for everyone. There’s seemingly no money in building something that someone could build a better version of. But there’s lots of money in building something that users will feel compelled to stick with because if they leave, it could affect their personal relationships. That’s why Line, Kakao, and others are building platforms around their services: they’re not just about messaging. They’re about apps, games, anything that will not only get people to stick with them over another, but to spend money while doing so. And Apple’s iMessage is all about getting people to stick with iPhone in particular.

WhatsApp was the exception: they built a service that was a product, not a platform, and it was ripe for acquisition. Now it can fit into whatever use Facebook has for it.


The problem ultimately comes down to this: there are so many companies with power: Apple, Google, the carriers especially – who could come together and create new standards. They could make a universal messaging system built to replace SMS that would go over modern data networks and wi-fi. It could tie in to mobile phone numbers but not necessarily, so that it would be easy for pretty much any internet-capable messaging device to communicate with any other without needing external apps or anything.

But no one has any reason to. Apple wants you to be so in love with Apple products and services and to rely on them so much that leaving is painful. Google has made their moves away from universality – they’ve been killing the XMPP protocol in favor of their proprietary Hangouts service. And the carriers, who perhaps would have the biggest incentive to keep people tied to actual phone numbers, aren’t. Perhaps it’s because the mobile business is so cutthroat that no one wants to work with each other? Or is it because while SMS is on the way down, they might as well beat that horse until it’s dead?

No matter the reason, it all traces down to one deep fear that everyone who works in the communication business fears: they don’t want to be a dumb pipe.

By a dumb pipe, I mean just being a way for bits to get from one end to another. This is not a good space to be in: it’s about who provides the best core service: and sometimes “best” means “cheapest.” And by being a dumb pipe, it can be easier for user to switch to a service that’s a better fit. Thus, the ultimate goal of many service providers, from telecoms to Google are to make it difficult on users to switch by locking them in to their services as much as possible.


It’s why telecommunication companies’ growth is so worrying, especially in the context of Comcast buying Time Warner Cable. Comcast already has expanded into a vertical behemoth: they sell internet service AND cable service, yes. But since they bought Universal, they also provide the content that gets piped in via those services. They own NBC, USA, NBCSN, and a wide variety of lucrative regional sports networks. And they have a big incentive to get you to consume just their content via their services, and as little of services like Netflix as possible.

See, while Netflix is a private and proprietary entity, it is a service that works perfectly on a dumb pipe. You don’t have to be on Comcast – or any ISP in particular – to use Netflix. So all Comcast has to do is to make it more satisfying to use their services. Perhaps by installing data caps to hinder video streamers with the bonus of not having their own video services go against those caps, or by throttling Netflix even on high-speed connections, making their services seem better.

They are doing – or have done – exactly that. And there’s little pushback from governments to stop them, thanks to courts overthrowing consumer-friendly regulations, and to the many other problems that governments face beyond “Netflix buffers too often.” It’s rough sledding out there right now for consumers because these corporations are only looking out for themselves. Netflix is even guilty of this – they want to lock you in by providing not just the bulk of standard consumable content from other studios, but by providing their own exclusive content. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with Netflix giving consumers compelling reasons to subscribe to them over Amazon Prime or any other streaming service, but they’re definitely playing a similar game as others are.

To stem this tide of proprietary prtocols, it’s going to take a company willing to build a protocol with the aim of building a product around it. Data messaging needs its email equivalent. It’s possible to profit handsomely off of protocols, off of providing a better way to interact with said protocol – Gmail is big business for Google, and Mailbox got wealthy thanks to a Dropbox acquisition. Email, and the internet itself, took off because they broke through the barriers of proprietary operation to connect anyone and everyone. And it’s time that someone in power – from service providers to telecoms to governments – makes a stand, not just for the interests of themselves, but for the everyday person, the ones who use their service. The internet is one of the most powerful tools that humanity has ever created, and those in power should not be able to poison and fragment it the way they have been.

Chromecast Hardware Review

Chromecast Hardware Review

Jul 30, 2013

The Chromecast is not entirely a perfect device at launch. But its promise is so immediately apparent – the future of beaming content should look a lot like this.


To explain what makes the Chromecast so useful, let me explain how the Netflix streaming works: the user picks the video from the app, and then taps the Chromecast beam icon to beam it to the Chromecast. Then, the Netflix app will be used to pause and fast forward. It’s possible to leave the app entirely and do other things, because the video handling is all being done by the Chromecast, not sent from the device itself. On Android, it’s possible to control video from the dock, for example. This also means that it’s possible to start a video on one device, pick up another one, open the app up to pause or select a new video, and continue on. Oh, and I’m not talking about between different Android devices – this works with iOS too. Oh, and thanks to HDMI-CEC support, beaming a video can automatically tune a TV to the right input too. It’s downright magical. And it’s $35. That’s well under what the Apple TV goes for and devices like the Roku are priced at.

There’s definite issues. Most annoying is that the Nexus 4 on 4.3 freezes when Chromecast’s setup app is active. Yeah, that’s a bit of a problem, but one that will be fixed soon…I hope. RemoteCast seems to help though. Setting the Chromecast up required a special network configuration that seemed to indicate that this might not work so well at first on some open network scenarios with client isolation, making the Chromecast’s usage as a travel-size video adapter possibly a problem for some on things like public and hotel wi-fi networks. On the desktop, streaming fullscreen video from non-Chromecast services means finding a way to minimize to desktop to be able to do things while the video is playing.


As well, the ultimate question will be if web companies find ways to limit Chromecast streaming – Hulu has big money on making sure it’s hard to watch free Hulu on a TV – and if more services hop on board. would be the killer app for me – it would be so much more handy with that! Netflix, YouTube, and pretty much any web video is a great start, though.

The Netflix promotion wound up being something of a bait-and-switch; The promotion ended at 5:30pm on July 24th on Amazon, which I barely beat out. It’s possibly an error, but still, it’s rough that Google ran out right away. The $35 price is quite fair regardless though.

What the Chromecast is: it’s like a baseball team that starts off hot, well above its talent level and with some potential long-term problems that will need to be addressed at some point, but it’s clearly got skill and a bright future. As soon as I can beam my baseball games, I can’t help but think that my Apple TV is done for.

How to Sideload Apps on to the Ouya

How to Sideload Apps on to the Ouya

Jul 2, 2013

The Ouya released rather recently, and there’s been complaints about the lack of content on there: there’s hundreds of games and a selection of non-game apps right now, but there are plenty of notable omissions. Of course, half the fun of the Ouya is that it’s an open Android device, and getting apps that aren’t yet on the Ouya store to your console is a breeze. Here’s how to sideload apps on to the Ouya.

How to Sideload

The Ouya interface doesn’t make it immediately clear how to install your own apps. Your best bet is to install a file manager and then install apps from there. Do just that. Go to the Ouya’s Make menu, and go to Software. Open up the browser. Now, download Astro v3 from Metago’s web page. Back out to the main menu and go to Manage, System, Advanced, which takes you to the default Android settings. From here, open Storage, Downloads. Install Astro. It will now be listed next to the browser in the Make/Software menu.


Copy the apps to your Ouya by plugging it in to your computer and copying them anywhere, though I recommend creating an Apps folder. You can copy while the system is on and in use. Now open up Astro, and using the touchpad on the Ouya controller, choose Manage My Files. Go to the folder with the app you want to install and chose Install. Follow the dialogue to install the app. Assuming that it’s a non Ouya-optimized one, it will appear in the Make/Software menu. Now just launch the app, and you’re good to go.


The easiest way to get APKs for yourself is to back the app up using a file manager. Astro has the ability to back up apps to APKs, as does File Expert. Both apps have Backup Apps options on their main screens. Get the APK files they create off of your device and on to your Ouya!


Apps that aren’t optimized for the Ouya’s controls and settings will be hit or miss. Here’s a few apps I tried from across the spectrum that show the postives and drawbacks of sideloading on Ouya.

MLB At Bat: Works normally! The d-pad works for some actions, and video playback is not as high-quality as it could be, but the app works perfectly well with the Ouya.

Netflix: The app runs, and video can be watched, but only if an advanced setting to kill all processes as they are quit is disabled. The Ouya has this setting enabled so that background processes don’t slow down game performance. Short answer: until an Ouya-optimized version is released, no Netflix for you. You’ll just have to play it on one of the dozen other devices you own that can play back Netflix.

OnLive: The streaming game service is still alive! And it works great on Ouya despite not being there at launch. The only issue that arises is that because the Ouya controller lacks the standard Start/Select buttons of most HID controllers (which the Ouya controller seems to work as) that some controls in some games will not work.

Metal Slug 3: These faulty controls rear their ugly head here. Try continuing when running out of lives while using the Ouya controller. You can’t. Thankfully Xbox controllers work with the Ouya, but this does limit what the Ouya controller can do.

While sideloading is an imperfect experience, there’s still plenty of unofficial functionality that can be added to the Ouya if you’re clever. Sideload away, and let us know if you find anything that works particularly well!