Netflix iPhone App Review

I’ve been using the Netflix app on my iPhone 3GS for a while now. By far, it’s one of the best apps I have. I’ve heard complaints about not being able to manage one’s disc queue, but I’m not overly concerned with that; it makes sense for the long term strategy of Netflix and also keeps the app focused. Additionally, it maintains goodwill for the developers who have apps that already do that, PhoneFlicks being the one that I use. (As a nerdy aside, Netflix has a great developer API, that’s really worth taking a look at. It’s clean, intuitive, and works great. It takes a lot of work to get an API designed right, and they’ve done it.)

This week I did hit what I consider to be a major flaw in the application: no video out on the 3GS.

Over the last week I was in San Diego, on vacation, without my laptop. I had been mulling over getting the Apple AV cable because it would make Netflix Watch Instantly way easier at home: my wife or I could just dock an iPhone and start watching. (No, we don’t have TiVo, which has Netflix built in; we choose not to subscribe to cable service.) Our current setup is a laptop with S-Video out connected to a hand-me-down receiver. We swung by the Apple store, picked up the cable, and headed back to try it out on an episode of Doc Martin. Sound, but no video. YouTube and local videos worked fine, but no go for Netflix (or Hulu Plus, for that matter). As I mentioned, major flaw.

Another issue that is mostly an annoyance rather than a glaring problem is the limitation of only being able to see the first 20 items on your WI queue.
Also, beware of which plan you have. This app doesn’t work if you’re on the el cheapo $5/mo plan. Any normal plan should be fine though.

Bottom line: The Netflix app is one that makes me hope I’m grandfathered in for unlimited data usage when I eventually upgrade. It’s a great app, but would be made better by supporting video out on the 3GS.

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