Android Phone Tips

Android Phone Tips
Talk about good news/bad news. If you own, say, an HTC Thunderbolt, Motorola Droid 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, or other incompatible device, the waiting game goes on. Over at Reddit, a user by the name of natemckn explains how to make Netflix for Android work on unsupported devices.

The hack works by fooling the Netflix app into thinking your phone or tablet is one of the supported models. Assuming you've already rooted it, the process looks fairly simple: using any root file editor, just edit a few lines in the device's "build.prop" file. 

Not coincidentally, I have also recently become a Netflix customer. And with the new Netflix Android app, I’m never more than a few seconds away from my favorite video content. There are a lot of great online sources for television and movie content. I love it, but I have to admit I was surprised to see it listed as one of the few Android devices to get this Netflix app–it’s not exactly the hottest, most top-of-the-line smart phone anymore. 

The Good
  • User Interface. It’s pretty darn easy to find the content you want, and find it quickly. The buttons feel like they’re in the right place; it’s very intuitive.
  • Video Quality. For a streaming video broadcast on a smart phone screen over a wireless network… it looks a heck of a lot better than I expected. There are some occasional frame-rate issues, or moments where the picture is slightly less crisp. But all in all, I was impressed.
  • Content. It’s all there. Everything I can access from my laptop I can access from my smart phone. Content is still Netflix’s best selling point over competitors, and the reason I signed up in the first place.
The Bad
  • Install Time. The install took forever. But that’s not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Sometimes excellent and robust apps are large files that need a little while to install. It is 22MB, after all (for comparison, the Android Market app is 3.2MB).
  • Load Issues. I had to uninstall and then reinstall because something went wrong with my initial attempt so that the app wouldn’t load when selected. After reinstalling, though, it worked just fine.
  • Limitations. This is not compatible with all Android devices. In fact, there are only a handful of devices that it is compatible with right now. Here’s the list: HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G, G2, or the Samsung Nexus S. If you own a different Android device, you’ll have to wait a bit longer (though some have reported the app working fine on Android phones that aren’t officially supported).
Andrew from the AndroidCentral YouTube channel, recorded a fantastic video walkthrough of the Netflix app in action on his phone. In addition to the new Android app, Netflix has also just announced a deal with Miramax, which will add about 300 films to the streaming service. Netflix is going to lap some of their competitors soon at this rate. 

With the free Netflix app for Android phones, Netflix subscribers can watch any movie or television show from the instant streaming catalogue anywhere over a WiFi signal, as well as a 3G and 4G connections. This ability to watch movies and TV shows anywhere makes the $7.99 per month cost of a streaming-only Netflix subscription a little more worthwhile—if you have the right Android-based phone. 

Currently (at launch), the Netflix for Android app is only compatible with a few phones : the HTC Incredible (running Android 2.2), HTC Nexus One (2.2, 2.3), HTC EVO 4G (2.2), HTC G2 (2.2), and Samsung Nexus S (2.3). The interface shows four straightforward options on a lower navigation bar: Home, Genres, Search, and Queue. 

The Genres button lets you browse available titles by genre. The Search button brings up a basic search bar, although you can only search by title—not actor, director, or anything else. Since the Netflix app for iPhone was first released, Netflix has tweaked the way search results are ordered, improving them so they are intelligently ordered.

Anytime you pause or stop watching, the app remembers that point and saves it to your Netflix account so that if you resume watching from any device, you can pick up exactly where you left off. When a reliable Wi-Fi signal is near, Netflix streams beautifully, with crisp pictures, clear sound, and no stuttering. Despite what's missing from the Instant streaming catalogue, the app itself leaves little to complain about. The streaming is great. The app is simple. 

Every movie entry contains quick information about it, such as the year it was released, MPAA rating (G, PG, PG-13, etc.), running time, and either the average star rating from other Netflix users or your personal star rating if you've entered one.
Netflix's recommendation system has a reputation for being excruciatingly lame. If you've ever had a Netflix account, you've probably cringed more than once at a suggested movie, regretting any star ratings you've inputted, much less those three stars you gave Big Momma's House 2. Netflix doesn't deserve the blame here (the movie studios do). 

If Netflix eventually pushes a fully disc-less agenda (which I think it will), the Android app will be an integral part of the service's value proposition. Netflix instant streaming is already supported by many set-top box streaming players, three game consoles, Blu-ray players from 10 manufacturers, and a host of other devices.
By. Android Phone Tips

Friday, May 20, 2011 | 0 comments | Labels: ,


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