App of the Week: Netflix

Publisher: Netflix
Platform: Damn near everything
Cost: Monthly Subscription

There's not a civilized soul alive that doesn't know about Netflix.  So much of what I'll say may will probably be old news to some.  However, the changes that the company has been making have only increased the usability of the app, especially on the Xbox 360.

First and foremost, Netflix has finally added profiles to the mix!  Up to five profiles can be set up under a single account.  This allows users to custom tailor Netflix to their personal tastes.  No longer will parents be forced to sift through recommendations based on their children's love of My Little Pony.  Profiles can be named and assigned a unique avatar.  Upon launching the app, it will now prompt for a profile.  And for those sharing the account with friends and family, this feature alone may be the greatest addition the app has ever seen.

But Netflix has also been tinkering with the look of the app on the Xbox 360.  Titles are still sorted by category, but titles no longer expand into a slideshow of stills when highlighted.  Instead, the stills will play across the top third of the screen alongside a description at the top.  The cover and categories stay at the bottom and make searching easier.  And overall, the appearance is slicker and a slight bit easier to navigate.

Voice control with the Kinect is still in place, but it doesn't seem as responsive.  It could just be me.  The family Xbox has shown its true colors more than once by responding to everyone's commands but mine...on my profile.  Regardless, I feel like I'm yelling at the Xbox more in a vain effort to get it to respond.  Accents and changes in pitch seem to have little effect.

Beyond the profiles, the changes are superficial, but still welcome.  Netflix continues to improve and each update only reflects this.  Thanks to its incredible lineup and ease of use, I'd say it's the most heavily used app on our Xbox 360.  And based on Xbox usage stats, it seems this is the case for many.  Clearly, Netflix is doing something right.