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fresh lick of paint

Spend ages browsing on Netflix? Its proposed new look could change that

The new look move its main service from a video store look to that of a movie theatre.

AFTER BECOMING ONE of the biggest online TV and video services in the world, Netflix is taking the next steps in its bid for global domination.

As well as planning to create 60 original shows this year  - ten of them being feature length movies – the company announced it’s launching its service in Australia and New Zealand by the end of the month (likely in response to so many people there using VPNs to access it), but it’s has a number of other things in store.

One of which is a overhauled interface and design for both tablet and desktop, and if you’re used to Netflix on the PS4 or Xbox One, you’ll have an idea of what to expect here. Dark background and bright tiles so titles pop out more.

The main reason for the proposed look (and emphasis should be placed on proposed) is to move it from what seemed like a video store look – which has become less relevant over time – towards a look that’s reminiscent of a movie theatre.

IMG_20150304_155627 The proposed look for the tablet version of Netflix, with the current version on the left.

So instead of rows of box-like icons to click on, the most relevant pick for each category will be displayed as a large image. The further suggestions will be placed underneath and displayed as rectangular tiles instead, meaning it’s easier to find what you’re looking for and less time spent browsing the collection.

The VP of Product Innovation at Netflix Todd Yellin said that the change was currently in the testing stages – with a number of users getting access to the new look – to see whether it improves the experience or not.

IMG_20150304_155659 The proposed new look for desktop. All information is displayed on the one page such as overview, episodes, similar shows and credits.

On the desktop version, it’s just a row of rectangular tiles with content only being expanded upon once hovered over with your mouse pointer and then again when clicked on.

The major change behind this version of Netflix is that it’s all happens on the one page. Yellin explained that the original Netflix experience was designed with the traditional web browser in mind. That is using different pages to display different content.

Now with faster connections, that requirement isn’t necessary and until you press play, your browsing happens on the one page so you can access summaries, episode lists, related series and other information without leaving the feed.

Yet the main point to take from this is it isn’t finalised. It could be changed or it could be scrapped entirely if those testing it don’t respond well to it. However, Yellin was pretty confident that the new look for desktop and tablet would win out and eventually make their way to users.

For this concept, it took a year to get to this point where people could begin testing it (normally it would take roughly a year and a half or two years for such a large update to go from concept to release). If it’s successful, it would likely be rolled out over the next few months.


The other development is Netflix’s movement into HDR (High Dynamic Range) quality. This is something that’s much further down the line, and dependent upon TVs adapting the standard (the move to 4K, for example, hasn’t exactly materialised), but the company is already creating TV shows using the new standard.

Effectively, it allows for more detail and allows for stronger contrast between lighter and darker objects.

For the viewing experience, it means that objects on a screen have more colour instead of being washed out. While Netflix has already created TV shows using 4K resolution, the main benefit of HDR is you can add it in during the post-production of a show or film. 4K requires you to shoot using 4K compatible equipment and is harder to recreate.

When asked about the possibility of a offline service, allowing users to download episodes or entire shows, Yellin said that priority “wasn’t at the top but more at the middle of the list and it’s a long list.”

Add to that the licensing restrictions for shows and films which means it’s probably not something you’re going to see happening anytime soon.

Quinton O’Reilly is at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona all this week. Follow all the goings-on at @TheJournalTech.

Read: Explainer: Why is your Irish Netflix so radically different to the US version? >

Read: This is the mobile browser Apple should have made >

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