iPod Touch v1.1.2-773
Windows Phone v22.214.171.124
As soon as the Windows Phone came out I couldn’t wait to compare the same app on both it and the iPod/iPhone. The obvious first one of these is of course Netflix. Netflix goes out of their way to try and offer a similar experience across all screens for their app, so this would provide a good opportunity to highlight the GUI advantages/disadvantages.
The first thing we are presented with for both apps is of course the home screen. The iPod screen features a familiar row of soft buttons along the bottom of the app for Home Genre Search and Instant Queue. Windows Phone has the same topics implemented through sliding text at the top. Being that Windows Phone is panoramic in nature, the text actually scrolls off the screen. This would seem to give the iPod version an advantage since you can click any of the buttons without scrolling. However, I noticed that when I turned to landscape for the Windows Phone all categories were now present. I could then click on each one just as I would the IPod soft button. Trying the same thing on the iPod reveals….well, it reveals that the home screen doesn’t switch to landscape. Bummer.
Another point to the home screen is that the recommendations are broken out into screens. On Windows Phone, the recommendations are presented all on one scrolling page with thumbnails and the ability to stream directly. Definite advantage to Windows Phone here as you are not flipping back and forth between pages.
When it comes to playback, the iPod shows some advantages that Windows Phone chooses not to implement. One is the 30 seconds back button on the player. The other is an aspect ratio button that allows you to view 4:3 in original or stretched. I could find no such functionality on Windows Phone. One hindrance to the iPod Touch version is that due to the lack of a hardware back button, it has a “done” button. However, what I have found with this is that if you hit “done” in the middle of a movie, Netflix does not save your spot. It actually makes the Resume function worthless because you are always going to start the show over. I presume this is something that will get fixed when Netflix brings it up to version parity with Windows Phone.
In all, I have to give the Windows Phone version of Netflix a slight edge here. The ability to browse in portrait or landscape as well as browse all recommendations from one page definitely shows some UI advantages of a modern phone OS. The iPhone version does show some refinement in the playback portion, but these are minor features that get little use. If the next update to the Windows Phone version adds 30 sec back rewind and aspect, the iPod version will definitely start to look aged.