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Netflix’s Playback Speed Feature For Androids Is A Controversial New Option

Netflix is rolling out more flexible viewing options for customers to enjoy their favorite shows. Netflix's playback speed feature for Androids allows users to select the speed at which they view titles, but the update hasn't come without controversy. Here's what you need to know about the new feature.

Netflix began rolling out the feature for Android users in the United States on Saturday, August 1, and the feature will be available for Android users globally in the coming weeks. With the new control, you'll be able to stream shows for slowed-down viewing at 0.5x or 0.75x speed, or for faster viewing at 1.25x or 1.5x speeds. You'll also be able to use the playback feature during offline viewing on downloaded titles. For every title you watch, you'll need to manually enable the altered playback settings. This prevents you from accidentally watching shows you haven't selected in a different speed.

The company announced it was testing user-controlled playback speed in a blog post in October 2019. The news was met with backlash from entertainment industry professionals, who spoke out against its potential effect on the quality of content. Actor Aaron Paul and director Brad Bird were among those who voiced their concerns, while director Judd Apatow tweeted in October that “distributors don’t get to change the way the content is presented.”

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Despite the controversy, Netflix decided to move forward with the release. In a Friday, July 31 update to its blog post, the company explained the decision behind the rollout, highlighting the greater flexibility it gives subscribers — for example, deaf individuals can use the feature to read captions more slowly and some vision-impaired people may be used to listening to audio faster. The company also shared the feature "capped the range of playback speeds and require members to vary the speed each time they watch something new" in order to address concerns from creators over altered content.

If you're an Android user, you'll want to keep an eye out for the new playback feature as the company is still rolling it out. Netflix is set to start testing playback speed options for iOS devices and the web version of the app as well, but there's no testing currently set for the TV app.