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New Netflix Android App Adds DRM, HDR

Posted by: , 11:04 AEST, Thu May 18, 2017

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Netflix's latest Android app brings joy and pain depending on what type of phone you use
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Image/Photo Credit: LG

The most recent major update of the Android version of the Netflix app will not play nicely with rooted phones thanks to a new DRM, but for those with the latest phones, it will also greatly improve playback quality.

Version 5 of the Netflix App has hit the Play store, but users with rooted phones have been prevented from downloading the app update. Google is only allowing devices that "are certified by Google and meet all Android requirements" from downloading the app update, and it appears rooted phones do not meet Google's strict requirements, and it's all to do with DRM.

Rooted phones allows users to have full control over the phone, but also allows those interested to examine the inner software workings of the phone. This allows enterprising coders to attempt to hack or bypass the DRM used by Android, and in Netflix 5.0's case, it's Google's own Widevine DRM. This is why Google has prevented rooted phones from downloading the new Netflix app from the Play store.

However, the problem isn't as bad as first feared, as users are still allowed to sideload and use the new Netflix app - they just can't get it updated via the Play store.

While the DRM issue stole all the headlines, those with some of the latest and greatest smartphones will be getting a nice quality boost from the same 5.0 update.

Netflix has supported HDR video for a while now, but only for 4K TVs. In the 5.0 update, HDR support has been enabled for smartphones as well. Or rather, smartphone, the singular, as the only supported phone at the moment is the LG G6, which supports the Dolby Vision standard.

Samsung Galaxy S8 owners, whose phones support the "Mobile HDR Premium" standard, were also at first excited when they started seeing the HDR logo in their Netflix app. But Netflix soon confirmed this was a mistake and that HDR streams were not enabled for these phones - not yet, at least. 

It is understood that HDR for the S8 will be coming soon.


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