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netflix puts jack bauer in my pocket

jack bauer in your pocket
we're running out of time! in your pocket.

i’m a huge fan of the netflix streaming service. so much so, that if i was given a choice between cable tv and netflix, i would toss the cable box out the window and into the pool with very little thought. i’ve streamed netflix on my laptop, my home computer hooked up to my tv, and on my playstation 3. my favorite, until today, was the ps3 solution.

today that all changed. netflix released their new app for the iphone, effectively putting almost everything i ever wanted to watch into my pocket. including jack bauer.

the good

the streaming video quality is amazing. even on 3g there wasn’t a whole lot of lag in my area. the app takes a second to start, but once its up you are presented with the familiar red welcome screen followed by a home screen. buttons at the bottom of the screen will take you to search, browse genres, your instant queue, and back home again. all of these options work as expected, and the interface is both intuitive and response, as we’ve come to expect from netflix on other platforms.

from the search results or the genre browser, you can add to your queue or play an item directly, as well as rate the content and get all the usual information. for items with episodes, there is an episode listing just below description that allows you to play or resume individual episodes.

the bad

one thing i noticed is that removing an item from your instant queue is not intuitive. when viewing an item, there are two buttons front and center on the screen. if you’re viewing something that’s in your queue already, the first button says “in instant q”, and the second “play”. i wasn’t immediately clued in on the fact that if i tap “in instant q” it would ask me to remove it. it seems like it would be more intuitive to have “add to queue” and “remove from queue”, but that might annoy people who feel they should be told explicitly that something is in their queue, despite seeing the item there on the previous screen.

there isn’t a lot of lag, but it is present on occasion. but really. i’m watching this on my phone, over the cell network on at&t. i really can’t complain a whole lot, especially considering that they are pretty good about continually updating their network. it would not surprise me, however, if we all noticed a response to this at the carrier level.

with all the talk about net neutrality and wireless network policy and payola packet prioritization, will we still be able to keep jack in our pockets? i’m sure netflix will work out whatever deals they have to. i’m also pretty certain that we’ll eventually hear at&t complain about people streaming video through their towers, as well. that, however, remains to be seen.

the verdict

i’m probably not going to get a whole lot of work done now that i can watch pretty much whatever the hell i want where ever i am, but everything about this is pure awesome. a lot of us have been waiting for this day a long, long time. it is finally here.

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