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Netflix finally updates its Apple TV app to better match Smart TV apps

24 Oct 2023 | Rasmus Larsen |

For a long time, Netflix has deliberately neglected to update its app for Apple TV to match the Netflix experience on Smart TVs and other devices. However, this situation is beginning to change.

Apple and Netflix are no longer bedfellows. Netflix has stopped allowing users to sign up through its app for Apple TV, eliminating Apple's 15–30% share of in-app subscription revenue, and it has removed AirPlay support. Meanwhile, Apple has launched a competing streaming service, Apple TV+.

Over several years, Netflix has also neglected to update its app for Apple TV to let it fall so far behind that the user interface was noticeably different and many features were missing compared to the Netflix app on Smart TVs and streaming players running Roku OS or Android TV.

In January 2023, FlatpanelsHD provided examples: "It lacks support for interactive content, top-10 lists, 'Play something', double thumbs up, the ad-supported plan, removable titles in the 'continue watching' row, integration with the Apple TV app, and other new features and interface elements that Netflix offers in its app on many other TV devices."

Finally bringing it up to speed

Since January 2023, Netflix has finally started work to reverse the decision. In late March 2023, Netflix app version 2.3.0 for Apple TV added support for Netflix Basic with Ads – the cheaper ad-supported plan – and the double thumbs-up feature. This week, the company released app version 2.9.0 for Apple TV to refresh the Netflix user interface to show vertical covers instead of horizontal covers along with some other visual tweaks.
Left: The new Netflix app (ver 2.9.0) on Apple TV. Right: The old Netflix app on Apple TV. Photos: FlatpanelsHD
The update brings the look of Netflix on Apple TV in line with Netflix on other modern streaming devices. Netflix app version 2.9.0 also adds top-10 lists on Apple TV. For us, top-10 lists showed up immediately on kids profiles but required a restart of the app and device to appear on other profiles.

Netflix top-10

Netflix app ver. 2.9.0 brings top-10 lists to Apple TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Features still missing

Despite the multiple app updates this year, some Netflix features are still missing on Apple TV. This includes support for interactive movies and TV shows such as You vs. Wild and Trivia Quest as well as the ability to remove titles from the 'Continue watching' row. Netflix does not support cloud gaming on Apple TV either.

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