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Last year’s release of tvOS 15 for the Apple TV brought a redesigned video player interface to Apple’s own TV app that has turned out to be a new standard video player framework for all tvOS apps. That’s probably a good thing since it at least ensures users will have a consistent experience whether they’re watching Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Disney+, or Hulu. As with most such changes, however, the problem is waiting for all these third-party apps to get up to speed.
Further, the new player is a significant departure from how the Apple TV worked before. Since its inception over a decade ago, the Apple TV software has always used a menu that drops down from the top of the screen to control things like audio, subtitles, and even skip between chapter markers. It’s been this way for so long that it’s become second nature.
That all changed with tvOS 15, which removes the overhead menu entirely in favor of a more modern design that now lives at the bottom of the screen.
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Controls for subtitles and audio are there, but they now appear as icons rather than text items. The whole UI is much closer to what iPhone and iPad users are familiar with, but long-time Apple TV users have found it jarring.
Over the past few months, mainstream apps have been getting on board with the new player design. This is especially important for those apps that integrate with Apple’s TV app since it means that you’ll still get a consistent experience whether you’re watching an Apple TV+ show, something from Apple TV Channels, or a show that launches into a third-party app like Paramount+ or HBO Max.
New Design + Scrubbing Support
Now it looks like Netflix has also embraced the new player. As several posters on Reddit have discovered, the latest tvOS app update switches to the new design, which puts TV show and movie titles in large type on the bottom left, above the scrubbing bar. Episode titles appear in smaller type, accompanied by an info button that will take you to the content details page.
This also means that the Netflix app now fully supports the Siri Remote, including the ability to scrub through a show by scrolling your finger around the outer ring.
It’s unlikely Netflix has done anything special to support this feature; as far as we know, it just comes standard as part of using the new tvOS 15 player.
Unfortunately, despite Netflix’s decision to move to the new tvOS 15 player, it’s still the odd app out when it comes to the Apple TV experience. For example, there’s still no integration with Apple’s TV app, so if you want to search for shows on Netflix, you’ll have to open the Netflix app directly.
Netflix has always been a bit slow when it comes to adopting features specific to Apple’s platforms, so it comes as a bit of a surprise that it’s already incorporating that new tvOS 15 player.
However, supporting the TV app is a bit more complicated. It’s unclear why Netflix continues to hold out on this, particularly when apps like Plex can search Netflix, but it most likely comes down to business politics. To tie into the TV app, Netflix would have to give up information it probably doesn’t want to share with Apple, and knowing Apple’s penchant for control, this isn’t likely to be a negotiable point.