Netflix is currently testing a special audio mode for its mobile apps – especially Android. While there is no guarantee that the ever so useful feature will see the light of day in a stable release, it is promising, aIf you are lucky, you can test the feature right now.
I fully understand that you mock the idea of ”listening” to a movie instead of watching it, believe me. I had also had the same reaction, but we used to do this all the time in my early days as technical editor. A bunch of Maximum PC employees spent the day in the lab running all sorts of reference tests, building (and breaking) various components and packing and unpacking unlimited shipping boxes. We want to put movies on to pass the time, but it’s not like we could just go down and watch them. We had shit to do.
Was something lost by a sound experience? Obviously, yes, but if it’s a movie you were already quite familiar with, it’s not to lose the visuals – or just check in from time to time, or look for favorite scenes – the big deal. I can see that the same is true if you are on a road trip and want something more exciting to listen to than radio (or your favorite podcasts). Why not put on your favorite movie? And sas long as you are not streaming video, you should use much less of your precious mobile data cap (theoretically).
To see if you qualify for the Netflix audio version, make sure you are at least running version 7.84.1 (build 28 35243) of the Android app. This is easy to check in the Google Play Store; just press “About this app” and scroll down until you see the version number under Appinfo.
If you can, try signing up for the Netflix beta at the bottom of the app list. It was full when I checked, but if you can get in, you will only increase your chances of being selected to test this type of feature with limited release.
A word about it: Since Netflix is only audio mode an unlock on the server side, you may not see it in your app, even if you are running the most up-to-date version you can get. If you’s qualified, you’ll know pretty quickly when you record something to watch on Netflix. At the top of the view, just above the pause button, you see an option to turn the video on and off.
I do not have that option, so I get the regular screen, shown above. (Also blame Netflix for not allowing screenshots of the content.)
If you have access to the feature – you are lucky – you will also find a brand new option on the Netflix settings screen. Under the modified Video and audio playback category in your app settings, you can choose when Netflix should default to audio mode: Always, never or when it detects that you are using headphones or external speakers.
We do not know when Netflix will launch this feature to everyone, if it ever will, but we will report if it changes. I can not wait to check out the feature, since I can not wait to enjoy movies without wasting precious data in those moments when I can not fix on the screen for several hours.