Under-the-radar, Netflix decided it was time to release an update to their iOS app with compatibility for both the iPhone and iPod Touch. Until now, the video streaming app has only been available on Apple’s iPad, while Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings promised iPhone and iPod compatibility with the app but the end of summer. Now it’s here, and available in the iTunes App Store.
If you’re new to the Netflix thing, the app requires at the least, their $9 monthly subscription which allows for unlimited streaming (dubbed, Watch Instantly) of Netflix’s online library of mostly mediocre feature-length films, but as well as various TV shows from a variety of TV networks.
The app includes access to ‘popular now’-esque shows, browsing by genres, a search function, and your Watch Instantly queue. There doesn’t appear to be any extensive editing capabilities for your queue, nor is your DVD/Blu-ray queue available to access in this app. The app is also available to use on AT&T’s 3G network, not just Wi-Fi. From my experience, quality doesn’t seem to be too badly hampered by having no access to Wi-Fi (unlike the YouTube app).
On another note, I’ve recently invested in a month’s worth of Hulu’s ‘Plus’ service to test out their app. In a nutshell, Hulu has finally decided to free up their service to other platforms including; Samsung TVs, Sony’s PS3, the iPhone/IPod, iPad, and later in 2011, the Xbox 360. In theory, you should be able to watch the extended library of content Hulu has bumped up to HD specifically for this service — including full seasons of current and past shows from Fox, NBC, and ABC. Most of all of this ‘Plus’ content is available on all the aforementioned device platforms for $9.99 a month.
The catch lies with not only the selection largely being limited to just those three networks, whereas Netflix (while having it’s own shortcomings) has shows from a larger array of TV and cable networks. The big issue, and probably the one thing that will hold Hulu Plus from taking off at this point in time is the fact that Hulu continues to serve ads in this Plus service during the commercial break placeholders in TV shows that you stream from Hulu. That’s right $10/month plus ads. Netflix, as usual asks for just $9, and there’s not a single ad in the experience.
Netflix is also available on a multitude of Blu-ray players, HDTVs, set-top boxes, game consoles, and now all of the iOS devices. Unlike Hulu, Netflix has also had a history of being open to working on platforms such as the open-source media project, Boxee, which also has a set-top box in the works.