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How To Watch Netflix Movies On Your iPhone

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Netflix's app for the iPhone and iPod touch has finally launched, more than 2.5 months after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings first showed it off at Apple's WWDC conference in June.

And nothing has changed -- that we can tell, at least -- since Netflix first unveiled the app: It still lets you browse and watch Netflix's streaming library, and that's it. It's simple, but it works well.

In our brief testing, the app did its job. Video quality was good, at least over wifi, as we're used to from the Netflix iPad app. (Based on our iPad experience, your 3G video quality and playback will vary based on AT&T signal strength.)

Meanwhile, for no additional fee, for now, at least, this adds more value to our Netflix account. We expect Netflix to get plenty of free-trial subscribers as a result of the new app; many of these could convert to paying accounts.

A few minor disappointments:

  • The in-app graphics have not been optimized for the iPhone 4's "retina" display -- they're still lower-res. Netflix has had long enough to fix this, so it's puzzling that the graphics are still lower quality than what almost all new apps now are able to offer. (The icon is hi-res, but the in-app graphics are not.)
  • And the app doesn't seem to support Apple's iOS 4 "fast-app switching." So if you leave the app for any reason, it starts you up from the beginning.
  • And Netflix also uses its own custom list views, which makes scrolling awkward. It's not as fluid as in other apps, and there's no scroll-status bar on the right side to show you how far up or down you are in the list.
  • In the future, we'd love to see Netflix add support for searching its DVD library, and organizing your DVD queue. Most Netflix subscribers still rent plenty of DVDs, and third-party Netflix iPhone apps offer this feature, so it seems reasonable to offer.

These features aren't deal breakers, though. The point of this app is to stream video, and so far, it seems to do that well.

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