Netflix has updated its Android app so that friends can send you things to watch, and has also added some rudimentary Android Wear support.
Now, when a Facebook friend recommends a movie or show, Android users will see options to play the movie, “thank” the friend or view more information straight from the notification bar. If you have an Android Wear smartwatch, those actions will carry over to your wrist, so you can quickly thank a friend or have your phone start to play the video.
Both additions build upon the social features that Netflix added in September, as the company has moved away from automatically sharing everything with everyone. And while they are thoughtful uses of Android’s notification system, there’s still plenty of unrealized potential for Netflix and Android Wear.
For one thing, it’d be nice if Netflix included fast forward, rewind, and volume commands for smartwatch users, instead of just a basic play button. This would be especially useful for people who watch videos on their tablets—propped up, perhaps, on a nearby coffee table or kitchen counter.
But for me, the dream scenario would be to get a recommendation from a friend, then instantly launch the video on Chromecast straight from Android Wear. Netflix already offers play/pause/rewind controls when casting a video, and those controls will indeed show up on a paired smartwatch. But the missing link is the ability to start the video in the first place. If I could do that without touching my phone—and perhaps control Chromecast’s volume at the same time—it would make Android Wear much more powerful as a living room remote.
Why this matters: TV controls have the potential to be a killer app for smartwatches, as the device is always on-hand and will never get lost between the couch cushions. While Chromecast already allows for the basics, Netflix’s updated app is a reminder of how much more could be done.