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Netflix adds an audio-only mode to its Android app

Netflix adds an audio-only mode to its Android app


The update is rolling out

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Netflix is giving viewers the chance to ignore the visuals of shows and movies entirely and go full audio. In an update first spotted by XDA-Developers and then Android Police, Netflix has started rolling out an audio-only mode for its Android app users.

When watching a video, subscribers will see a “video off” button at the top of the full-screen video player. Once the video is turned off, a blank screen will appear along with all of the playback controls, like a scrub bar, forward and backward buttons, and speed adjustments. You can see that screen below, thanks to Android Police.

There’s also an audio-off option in the app’s settings, which lets viewers decide whether they always want the audio off or only when they’re using headphones or external speakers. It’s unclear when all Android users might receive this update; two Verge staffers weren’t able to access the audio-only mode just yet.

This is an intriguing update, though, if only because audio is having a moment. There is, of course, all the buzz around the podcasting industry and Spotify’s efforts to overtake it, but also Twitter launching audio tweets and apps like Clubhouse and TikTok focusing on audio as critical to their success. I wouldn’t have expected Netflix to include an audio-only mode, but if it wants people to spend more time on the app, that means supporting them in situations when they can’t fully give their attention to a screen.