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Netflix gets smarter

A range of features on the streaming video platform are designed to increase involvement of family and friends.

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We know how it goes: the year starts and before you’ve blinked you are half way through it. In that time, it’s understandable that things that were shiny and new at the beginning of the year fall by the wayside – much like abandoned New Year’s resolutions or toys when the novelty has worn off. 

Netflix once looked as if it may be one of those novelties, but it is constantly evolving, and not only with new content being released every week. New features keep slipping in to improve the viewing experience.  Here’s a recap of the top feature roll-outs from the past two years:

Personalised profiles

Every Netflix account comes with 5 pre-loaded profiles (so members of a family can separate their viewing choices), and each profile can be personalised with an icon that best describes the individual. In July 2018, Netflix launched its biggest update to the personalised experience with new profile icons, which now allow users to update icons with characters from Netflix shows and movies.

Trailer preview

With thousands of hours of content on Netflix, and the South Africa platform having grown by over 500% since launch, choosing the next show or movie to watch can be daunting. It’s hardly surprising, that the overwhelming majority of the shows people watch on Netflix are as a result of the platform’s personalised recommendation system. 

To make selections easier, however, a new viewing option allows users to preview a trailer without having to select the movie or series. They can now get a quick glimpse into the synopsis of the show by just hovering over it, making it easier to either keep scrolling onto something else, or settling into the show.

Be Social

Users can now share favourites on social media, with a new ‘Sharing To Instagram Stories’ feature.  No more screenshots, no more long explanations about a show or movie. It works like this:

  1. Open the Netflix app on your device.
  2. Select the series/movie you wish to feature
  3. Tap on the ‘share’ option.
  4. Tap on ‘Instagram Stories,’ and you’ll be redirected to the Instagram app.
  5. An image of the cover art from the show or movie will appear
  6. Customise IG Stories with text, GIFs, or polls.
  7. Share to followers and friends.

The post will stay visible for 24 hours, as any normal story would, and will provide a “Watch on Netflix” link back to the app and title page.

No Need to Manage Downloads

Thanks to the Download feature that launched back in 2016, long road trips and no Wi-Fi zones are now easier to tackle, with uninterrupted viewing, without using data. And then 2019 brought the Smart Download feature. Now, once one has finished watching a downloaded episode, Smart Downloads will delete it to free storage space, then automatically download the next episode.

Don’t know how to Download? Here’s how:

  1. Download the Netflix app on your laptop, cell phone or tablet
  2. Open the app
  3. Type in the name of the show/movie in the search bar
  4. Hit Download
  5. Find the show under your downloads list when you’re ready to watch – no Wi-Fi required, just make sure your device is fully charged.

These easy hacks will help navigate Netflix:

  •  F will give you full screen, Esc will take you out of it. 
  • PgDn pauses and PgUp will play. 
  • The space bar will also pause and play. 
  • Shift + Right Arrow will fast forward; Shift + Left Arrow will rewind. 
  • M should toggle your mute button, depending on your computer.

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