Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) gave its engineers a chance to tweak the company’s user interface however they wanted at a recent Hack Day, as long as the change could be developed within the 24 hour timeframe, reports Greg Kumparak at TechCrunch. There’s no guarantee that any of the hacks will be released to the public, but Netflix wouldn’t have told us about some of the more promising hacks if it didn’t want to gauge our interest.
Hack pauses Netflix when you fall asleep
The hack that is generating the most buzz pauses movies when it thinks you’ve fallen asleep, and then offers to playback from that point when you wake back up. It relies on activity tracker FitBit (though any high end activity tracker could probably work) to determine when you’re sleeping by measuring your heart beat, and if you’re so bored that the Sleep Tracker hack pauses your movie it’s probably a sign to look for something else to watch anyway.
Another great hack is Netflix Beam, which lets your friends temporarily sign into your Netflix account when they come to visit you. The hack uses Bluetooth to know when your two devices are near each other (not all of the details are clear), but this saves you and your friends from lots of unnecessary signing in and out just because one of you isn’t at home.
Hacks take on the Netflix user interface
Two other hacks are so simple that it’s surprising Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) hasn’t implemented them yet. While Netflix has a queue (and spends a lot of time trying to figure out what you might enjoy watching), it doesn’t let you create separate playlists to store different types of movies and TV shows. That way, instead of choosing between your queue and the entire Netflix catalogue you can just decide what kind of mood you’re in and scroll through your own chosen subset of shows. Netflix may not want to add a layer of complexity to their UI, but adding this feature seems like an obvious plus.
Another hack that seems to take a page from the iPod, Netflix Radial simply rearranges the onscreen keyboard from a QWERTY layout to a radial one. Depending on how you like to scroll for letters, this is could be more of a move sideways than an improvement, but it is odd that tech companies that have spent so much time on user experience are still tied to a keyboard layout developed for typewriters before anyone that works at the company had been born.