Wednesday, December 16, 2015

An update to our Windows 10 app

We have published a new version of our Windows 10 app to the Windows Store. This update features an updated user experience that is powered by an entirely new implementation on the Universal Windows Platform.

The New User Experience

The updated Browse experience provides vertical scrolling through categories and horizontal scrolling through the items in a category.

The updated Details view features large, cinematic artwork for the show or movie. The Details view for a Show includes episode information while the Details view for a Movie includes suggestions for other content.

Our members on Windows run across many different screen sizes, resolutions and scaling factors. The new version of the application uses a responsive layout to optimize the size and placement of items based on the window size and scaling factor.

Since many Windows 10 devices support touch input on integrated displays or via gestures on their trackpad, we have included affordances for both in this update. When a member is browsing content with a mouse, paginated scrolling of the content within a row is enabled by buttons on the ends of the row. When a member is using touch on an integrated display or via gestures on their trackpad, inertial scrolling of rows is enabled via swipe gestures.

Using the Universal Windows Platform

Over the last few years we have launched several applications for Windows and Windows Phone. The applications were built from a few code bases that span several technologies including Silverlight, XAML, C#. Bringing new features to our members on Windows platforms has required us to make changes in several code bases and ship multiple application updates.

With the Universal Windows Platform, we’re able to build an application from a single code base and run on many Windows 10 devices. Although the initial release of this application supports desktops, laptops and tablets running Windows 10, we have run our application on other Windows 10 devices and we will be adding support for phones running Windows 10 in the near future.

This new version of the application is a javascript based implementation that utilizes Microsoft’s WinJS library. Like several other teams (see tech blog posts for Netflix Likes React and Making Faster) at Netflix, we chose to use Facebook React. Using javascript to build the application has allowed us to use the same HTML5 video playback engine that is used in our browser based applications.

Windows Features

The new version of the app continues to support two features that are unique to the Windows platform.

When the app is pinned to the Start menu, the application tile is a Live Tile that will show artwork representing the items in a member’s Continue Watching list. We support several Live Tile sizes and large tile size is a new addition in this version of the app.

Our integration with Cortana enables members to search with voice commands. On app start, we register our supported commands with Cortana. Once a member has signed-in, they can issue one of our supported commands to Cortana. Here are the Cortana commands that we support in English:

If a user were to tell Cortana: Netflix find Jessica Jones, Cortana would start the app (if needed) and perform a search for Jessica Jones.

What’s Next?

We’re excited to share this update with our members and we’re hard at work on a new set of features and enhancements. The Universal Windows Platform will enable us to support phones running Windows 10 in the near future.

Visit the Windows Store to get the app today!

by Sean Sharma