Home At Last! Netflix Comes to iPhone

At Last! Netflix Comes to iPhone

Netflix has finally launched its highly anticipated free mobile application for the iPhone and iPod Touch and it’s available now for download in the iTunes App Store. Like its iPad counterpart, the app lets subscribers stream TV shows and movies straight to a handheld device, either over Wi-Fi or 3G. Membership plans for Netflix start at $8.99/month, which is low enough, perhaps, to entice people to sign up, even if they only plan to use Netflix for mobile streaming.

If you’ll recall, the first Netflix mobile application was released on April 1st, 2010 – also known as April Fool’s Day here in the U.S. And it was such a big story that it almost seemed too good to be true: Netflix on the iPad? Has to be a joke!

As it turns out, it was not. Going mobile has long been part of the company’s strategy, although it often hesitated to admit to that. In fact, in January of this year, only a few months prior to the iPad app’s launch, CEO Reed Hastings claimed building an iPhone app was “not a huge priority for us because we are so focused on the larger screen,” meaning, the TV.

Either he was diverting attention from the company’s actual plans or things rapidly changed over the course of the following months, because in April, Netflix announced plans to release an iPhone/iPod Touch app. (Today’s company blog post says this news was merely a “hint,” – which is funny, considering the actual April announcement states clearly: “we’re working on it.”) In June, the company again confirmed the iPhone app’s arrival, saying: “get ready to watch instantly on it this summer!”

And now, just before summer officially ends, here it is.

So, Is It Any Good?

The new app is in many ways an improvement over its iPad counterpart which often feels more like the desktop-sized website crammed into an iPad wrapper. The iPhone app, however, looks more custom-built. There are buttons for “Home,” “Genres,” “Search” and “Instant Queue,” although it’s sadly lacking queue management tools.

For those who have extra-long queues, the choice to display only 3 movies per screen (and the third, just barely) means there’s a lot of scrolling ahead of you if you need to reach the queue’s end. You may be better off searching for the movie instead of trying to scroll down to find it!

But it’s a start, at least. And it does the most important thing: stream Netflix movies to your iPhone, without requiring a jailbreak and hack.

Now, there’s only one thing left to wonder about – where’s the Android version?

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