Netflix updates Xbox One app with new layout users hate, removes key features

Netflix updated its Xbox One app yesterday, bringing the design the company uses across its TV apps to Microsoft’s console, and users aren’t too happy about it.

The new Netflix app now matches the streaming service’s apps on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Apple TV and other television hardware. Previously, the Xbox One app featured a layout that matched the company’s app in the Windows Store, with a Metro-style design. The change means users are now presented with a vertical series of lists that scroll left and right, but no ability to view the lists in rows and columns, as was previously the case.

In addition to the design changes, the Xbox One app’s main menu now appears to run in 720p instead of 1080p, as users complainted about to a Netflix engineer on Twitter. Several other features appear to have been cut as well, with less voice navigation capabilities available, no gesture control options, no “continue watching” section and playback that is now broken when the app is snapped. While many important features appear to have been cut or broken, Netflix did add the ability to recommend videos to friends on Facebook through the app.

So far, reaction to the new design has been overwhelmingly negative on social media. Searching for “Netflix” and “Xbox One” on Twitter reveals dozens of tweets complaining about the design, with only a few in support of it. Some of the words used to describe the update include “unorganized,” “garbage,” “terrible” and “slow,” among others that aren’t suitable for publication.

Netflix has yet to respond to the complaints or address if features cut in the update will return at a later time. It's unlikely Netflix will revert the interface back to its previous version, however, as the new version uses the company's universal design style, which it also updated its Xbox 360 app to last year. The Xbox 360 app previously also had its own unique design.

Image via Netflix

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This isnt the first time Netflix has done this and it won't be the last. Every single update across platforms has removed features and made it harder to navigate.

The reason is simple - they want to push promoted content, make it impossible to browse entire catalog without a pc, and reduce load on their servers. The harder it is to use, the less it costs them. And no one is going to quit because of this.

Agreed. Tried it; it's terrible.
The original XboxOne app wasn't perfect, but it did a lot of things really well. It was speedy and presented information in a fairly clear way. It also had more features than the dreck they forced on us.

So let Netflix know! They wont' fix anything unless we complain.

I don't get how a paid app like Netflix keeps getting worse, while free to use media apps like XBMC keep getting better ...smh, shame on Netflix

This had gone from best app to worst app overnight. I'll be cancelling my sub at the end of the month if this isn't fixed and won't be signing back up at the new higher price. I guess this is the quality assurance we can expect from Phil Spencer the Kinect haters team going forward!

1. 720p
2. slow loading
3. terrible interface
4. no voice support via Kinect
5. no gesture support via Kinect
6. no snap support
7. no bumper support on controller
8. No typing support on smartglass

They don't deserve my money for this rubbish. I'd rather go back to torrenting than use this awful app.

The new app is so terrible compared to the previous last night I shut it down and started using Amazon Instant instead. It really made me appreciate how much better designed the Amazon app is (with the exception of the search). I don't think I can actually find anything on Netflix anymore, I don't see myself ever using it after this downgrade.

thank GOD its not just me who was bitterly annoyed after the app got updated. It is a terrible update. One of the things i was most looking forward to (coming from a 360) was the new Netflix UI. and now i'm back to the old rubbish. and to make things even worse, its AS slow as the xbox 360 version..... grrr, angry!!

It's funny how they effectively break voice control, which was how I controlled my app 90% of the time (basically anything outside of searching or switching multiple panels), but at the same time, make the experience far worse for anyone now having to now use a controller! Whomever decided that the triggers shouldn't be usable any more needs to be sacked, not rewarded. It's a terrible design decision that makes controlling Netflix very unfriendly to people who don't like holding a controller (the non-gamers in the family, for instance).

This happen all the time including Window 8, some people love or hate it. Netflix fall in to the same category. What irks me though is, the XYZ company are so afraid with negativity that the positive one are overlooked.

Funny how the only people that trash the Kinect and voice control are those that don't use it. It's f-ing amazing once you learn how it all works. When I saw the voice stuff was missing, I just assumed it was part of the preview app and was going to be added back in at some point. Developers must love it when they get a barrage of negativity like this, would love to be a fly on the wall in that office today.

jimmyfal said,
Funny how the only people that trash the Kinect and voice control are those that don't use it. It's f-ing amazing once you learn how it all works. When I saw the voice stuff was missing, I just assumed it was part of the preview app and was going to be added back in at some point. Developers must love it when they get a barrage of negativity like this, would love to be a fly on the wall in that office today.

The basic controls should still be there, but there's some missing. Also, saying "Xbox" brings up the standard Xbox voice controls.

the older metro UI was better. I could see more things on the screen when I am navigating and actually use my kinect. this new universal UI is a joke. whats next? are they also going to screw up the windows 8 app?

The things that have annoyed me the most.
The triggers no longer do fast forward or rewind.
There's no way to change audio options via voice command.

While the trigger thing is annoying, I like the fact now that it's easier to skip a section of the show, like the opening credits. Before you had to crank ff up to 32x or something and the preview image would lag behind so you couldn't tell when to stop. And for some reason, the preview image never corresponded to where you would actually start playing. Sometimes you would even fast forward a little bit (in case you stopped before the intro was over) and when you hit play, you would be at the same spot you were at.

So that's one way the app is better. In every other way though it sucks.

Well funny thing is i had bought a new tv that has a netflix app that supports 4k and 3d but i had still been using teh xbox ones app just because i liked the layout and voice command stuff so much but after it forced me to update and i messed around in it i hate it.... It now looks just like the netflix app on my tv but my tv app has more features and is easier to control with the magic remote than the xbox controller. Took all of my reason for using it on xbox away.

The new layout is not optimal. I agree. However there are two things that I like about the new version:

1. FINALLY, no more damn auto play for the next episode. What an annoying thing to have. Particularly since it could not be turned off.

2. I can finally select a show I was watching and the damn thing doesn't start playing automatically giving me a chance to select a different episode if I want.

It still autoplays the next episode for me when the previous episode finishes. I like that feature, personally. I do agree it should be an option, though.

nowimnothing said,
It still autoplays the next episode for me when the previous episode finishes. I like that feature, personally. I do agree it should be an option, though.

Yes, some people definitely like it. Should be an option as it is in other platforms.

It didn't autoplay the next episode for me. I wonder if now it is taking the setting people can set for it on the Netflix website since I have that one disabled.

nowimnothing said,
It still autoplays the next episode for me when the previous episode finishes. I like that feature, personally. I do agree it should be an option, though.

Still auto plays for me. I dont mind autoplay. What annoys me is they cut off the last minute of what you are watching and put it in a small windows in the top left of the screen. And at times, there is a little bit of the episode that is cut off.

Looks like you're forced to use a controller or smartglass. I can't get past the Netflix/Kids selection screen using voice or gestures. Grr.

Looks like you're forced to use a controller or smartglass. I can't get past the Netflix/Kids selection screen using voice or gestures. Grr.

I despair, I really do. wtf is it with these companies/developers these days? Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Netflix to name a few. This kind of #### is NOT OK. Stop making things worse just to get your ###### redesign out there asap.

Why should they maintain a different UI for xbox one when there is no guarantee that users will have kinect?
That's what we will get now MS made the decision to remove it instead of take the cost hit.
Short sighted in my opinion.

You do know that majority of Xbox One owners DO have the kinect right? It just became unbundled a couple months ago...

Yes, great time to change the app before the Xbox one launches in new countries.
No need to include any localised support and never need to maintain a custom interface because there's no guarantee any new users will need it.

It totally possible to keep the same UI across all systems and still support additional commands on devices that have it.

This update is pure laziness by the Netflix devs - Its poorly optimized, and just plain broken.

LightEco said,
It totally possible to keep the same UI across all systems and still support additional commands on devices that have it.

This update is pure laziness by the Netflix devs - Its poorly optimized, and just plain broken.

Given the ways that it breaks the Xbox One design guidelines, I have to suspect it was a PS4 port, and a shoddy one at that.

Eolirin said,

Given the ways that it breaks the Xbox One design guidelines, I have to suspect it was a PS4 port, and a shoddy one at that.


It's not a PS4 port, it's just the HTML5-based app almost all platforms use. This makes it much, much easier for Netflix to release new features and make changes without having to modify hundreds of codebases for different devices. Sure, you may lack some platform-specific features but Netlix aims for consistency.

Netflix Response: "But but, extended user testing showed that the three people in marketing (who's job depended on this going live) really loved it. I know we got rid of all of user experience department, but trust us you'll really like this."

Of course what else can we do, switch to a different streaming service?

ugh...why would they do this??
it was so great prior to this update.
screw their universal ui philosophy. not to mention taking out features = just stupid.

Crappy interface, no voice commands other than pause/play while watching something. I dont know what Netflix was thinking but bad move.

techbeck said,
Crappy interface, no voice commands other than pause/play while watching something. I dont know what Netflix was thinking but bad move.

I haven't looked at the new release yet, but if I have to use a controller now, that's a HUGE step backwards. I've become so used to just "Xbox, On," followed by, "Xbox, Go to Netflix," to "Xbox, Select 1" to start watching my show. If I need a controller now, I'll be royally ######.

Can still say XBOX On and GOTO Netflix. Just cannot do Select 1 or anything else. When in the Netflix menu you say "XBOX Select" and the is nothing in green to say. You can still stop/pause/play vids by using your voice but thats it. Hopefully it will be updated to put those features back but right now, and like you said, it is a step backwards. Annoying.

techbeck said,
Can still say XBOX On and GOTO Netflix. Just cannot do Select 1 or anything else. When in the Netflix menu you say "XBOX Select" and the is nothing in green to say. You can still stop/pause/play vids by using your voice but thats it. Hopefully it will be updated to put those features back but right now, and like you said, it is a step backwards. Annoying.

That's ridiculous and a HUGE step backwards. I don't want to have to use a controller -- remember, Microsoft said I *AM* the controller. :(

So you can fast forward and rewind, but you can't access audio options, and gesture support for seeking through the video (which was really great!) is gone.

You can still get things to play, and you can still navigate through the lists (but you're limited to 5 items at a time, so it's extremely painful) but you cannot select a show to get to the options for that show, rather than *just* playing the episode you were currently on, so there's *no* way to change what episode you're going to watch, or to select a season, or use any of the other functions without picking up a controller or using smartglass.

They also break Xbox One design guidelines all over the place; they're using PS4 icons, and all of the voice hints when you say Xbox Select are white instead of green. It loads twice as slow, some people have been having crashes, Snap is broken, and the UI only displays in 720p. It looks like an *extremely* shoddy PS4 port.

techbeck said,
Can still say XBOX On and GOTO Netflix. Just cannot do Select 1 or anything else. When in the Netflix menu you say "XBOX Select" and the is nothing in green to say. You can still stop/pause/play vids by using your voice but thats it. Hopefully it will be updated to put those features back but right now, and like you said, it is a step backwards. Annoying.

I was able to select, but it seemed much more spotty than before. Most of the basic voice control commands should still be there.

Some basic voice control is there, but it's impossible to fully navigate through the app, as there is no way to select episodes. And because you're limited to 5 items at a time and there is no gesture support, good luck navigating to what you want with just voice.

You can work around this by using the Xbox Bing command to find the show you want to watch and navigate there, then select the Netflix option under Get it Now, but that means you're not using the Netflix app for anything other than watching the resultant video stream.