Developer: Netflix, Inc.
Rating: Ages 12 and up
Requirements: iPad with iOS 3.1.3 or later
- Playback movies and television from your instant queue
- Search for titles or view genre lists
- Supports video out through the devices like the Apple Digital AV Adapter
- Netflix unlimited streaming plan costs $7.99 a month
Netflix was one of the big surprises dished out during the original iPad's release. While Steve Jobs announced the device with a lot of flare, no word of a Netflix app leaked out until just a few days before the iPad went on sale. And as the company transitions from DvD Rentals-by-mail to streaming movies and television, getting the application on as many devices as possible becomes the cornerstone of their new business.
Compared to the company's other applications, such as Netflix for the Xbox 360 and Netflix for the PlayStation 3, the iPad version is functional, but lackluster in the features department. The video playback is fantastic, which is the primary reason why the app gets a better-than-average rating, but everything beyond playback seems slapped together.
You won't be able to manage your Netflix account with the app. You won't be able to browse titles and put them in your rental queue for them to be mailed to you. Even the movie descriptions are truncated, with an abbreviated list of the cast and no mention of whether the movie is "quirky" or "inspiring" or "dramatic", which are tags you might see in the movie's description on the website.
In many ways, the Netflix iPad app seems like an iPhone app quickly ported to the iPad. The screens showing the top picks of a particular genre are dominated by white space rather than filled with movies, leaving you to do more scrolling when browsing for a title. It's also not entirely clear on how to get to a video's description, and many first-time users will find themselves accidentally kick off a title for playback when they just want to read a synopsis of the movie. When compared to the interface for other movies apps like Hulu Plus or Crackle, Netflix comes off looking clumsy.
Fortunately, the app does score points for video playback. Netflix on the iPad fully supports the resume features found on other devices, and the support for video out without relying on the iPad 2's display mirroring comes in handy when you want to watch your video on your HDTV. And while the app lacks features found on the website, you can (at least) rate the videos you watch.
While the app won't win any awards, it is still a must-have download for anyone subscribing to Netflix for streaming videos.