Play+ for Netflix just doesn't deliver
A while back I reviewed a Mac app called Play+ for YouTube from developer It's About Time Products. I love and use the app, which provides a slick way to browse and discover YouTube videos, and then watch and comment on those videos without firing up a web browser. Today, It's About Time Products released a similar Mac app that is supposed to make browsing and discovery of Netflix videos and shows easier -- Play+ for Netflix (US$1.99 introductory price, $5.99 after February 23, 2014 )
To be blunt, I immediately found myself somewhat confused as to why a Netflix user would want to use the app. Play+ for Netflix doesn't actually allow you to view the Netflix videos inside the app. Instead, it opens a browser -- requiring a second login to Netflix -- and plays the video there. As with Netflix on any Mac or PC, that requires Microsoft Silverlight to be installed on your Mac. Of course, I'll be removing Silverlight as soon as I'm done with this review.
So what's the selling point of the app? Well, clicking the bottom of a movie or TV thumbnail in Play+ for Netflix brings up a pop-up window that shows the movie or show's rating on Rotten Tomatoes and allows viewing of the trailer within that pop-up. Of course, if you wanted to watch Netflix movies on your Mac, you could just as easily have the Netflix site and Rotten Tomatoes open in a pair of browser tabs and switch quickly between them... Watching on your Apple TV? Just pull out the iPhone or iPad that you're probably playing with anyway and bring up the Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB sites to see viewer reviews.
Many Netflix users pass on using their Macs to watch content anyway, instead using an Apple TV box connected to an HDTV or choosing to watch on an iOS device or another platform altogether. But if you want to watch Netflix content on your Mac, I can't really recommend Play+ for Netflix -- I just don't see the point.
A closer look at the app's user interface makes it appear to me that it's just another web browser displaying the same page that you'd view if you went directly to the Netflix site in your favorite OS X browser -- the app just provides a different colored background. For example, here's what you see on the Netflix web page:
Now here's the same information in Play+ for Netflix (located at the bottom of the "page" both in the browser and in the app):
Hovering above the play button on each one of the thumbnails brings up the standard Netflix popup, so there's no difference there, either:
The items across the top of the Play+ for Netflix interface (Home, New Arrivals, HD, Subs & Caps, Taste Profile), are the same as what you'd find in the "Watch Instantly" menu in Netflix in a web browser. The other web browser links -- My List, Genres, Kids, DVD, My Account -- are just moved down to a toolbar at the bottom of the Play+ window and given icons. If you're familiar with the Netflix menu structure in an OS X web browser, you're going to have to figure out where those commands are in the app -- hardly worth the effort.
I've been impressed with offerings from It's About Time Products in the past, especially the company's incredibly good iBooks. I recommend 70 iOS 7 and Legacy Tips, Tricks and Secrets and its OS X Mavericks companion iBook to anyone who wants to learn more about either of Apple's operating systems. But I cannot recommend Play+ for Netflix to any Netflix customer as it simply doesn't provide any added value.
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