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Netflix rolls out updated web player with new control bar and overlays for easier browsing

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Netflix has rolled out a new interface for its web-based video player, offering new overlay design elements for easier browsing of television shows.

Netflix redesigned web interface
Netflix redesigned web interface

Netflix has been on an update tear lately, serving up redesigned versions of its Xbox 360 and iPad apps, as well as updating the version for Windows Phone. Now it's time for the web player to get a makeover, with the company rolling out a new look today. The changes start with the new control bar, which proves particularly useful when watching television shows: a pop-up overlay allows you to browse what other episodes are available from Netflix over the live video itself, and you can jump to any episode without leaving the screen. Overlays are featured heavily throughout, with a new pause screen displaying program information when the video has been put on hold for a few moments. Even better, live video resizing is supported as well, allowing you to quickly change the size of the playback window without having to worry about rebufferring.


It's not all good news, however, as the new version has some issues when running in Google Chrome on OS X. When first launching the new player, a message pops up suggesting users watch video with either Safari or Firefox instead. GigaOM spoke with a Netflix representative, who stated that the issue stems from Microsoft Silverlight, which powers Netflix's web-based video playback. Not all users will experience problems — playback worked fine for us — so Netflix decided to enable the new player for Chrome and simply display a warning instead. The new changes make the experience of using Netflix on a computer noticeably more enjoyable, and while some of the design cues do bring Hulu to mind at times, when something looks this nice, we have a hard time complaining.

Thanks, Michael!