Netflix gains playback speed settings on Android

Ruben Fields
August 2, 2020

Netflix will now let all customers of its Android app play again video at completely different charges - starting from half-speed to 1.5 occasions sooner - a characteristic that elicited a strongly unfavourable response from some Hollywood creators when the streamer started testing it out final fall. Those are slightly fewer options than YouTube, which allows people to slow all the way down to 0.25x speeds, and speed up by twice the normal playback speed.

Netflix, in its blog update, said the feature was well-received by its members.

This feature was first announced previous year, and it took this long to launch because Netflix was working on features that ensure a smooth experience - such as automatically correcting the pitch in audio at faster and slower speeds so what you're hearing isn't going to be a distorted mess. If you hop into the Netflix on your Android device and play any piece of content, you will now see a new "Speed" control sitting to the left of the "Screen Lock" option.

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The function will first be available to all users of the Netflix Android app, although the company also plans to start testing it for iOS devices and the web. You will also need to adjust the speed for each TV show or movie individually. "Similar functionality has been available on DVD players and DVRs for years and the feature has been much requested by members".

Director and producer Judd Apatow was notably unhappy with the feature, stating that distributors like Netflix "can't change the way content is presented".

Subscribers must opt-in to use the playback speeds with every single title they want to watch; it won't just remain active when you pick something else to watch. She added that variable-speed playback capability has been supported by the National Association of the Deaf and the National Federation of the Blind. Netflix says it will automatically correct the pitch in the audio at slower or faster speeds for a smooth experience. "Most important of all, our tests show that consumers value the flexibility it provides whether it's rewatching their favorite scene or slowing things down because they're watching with subtitles or have hearing difficulties".

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