Netflix Tests New Features Including Pop-Out Players & Rumbling Smartphones

Mike Wheatley

Netflix is reportedly testing a couple of new but unrelated features that may or may not become more widely available. They include a new pop-out player that allows people to multitask while watching its content, and a vibrating smartphone feature that’s meant to add to the tension during nerve-racking or fast-paced action scenes.


The pop-out player seems the more likely of the two to make the grade. It’s currently being tested out on Netflix’s desktop app, and is designed to let subscribers watch its content while getting on with their work.

The pop-out player isn’t a new concept, as many websites do the same, floating a small screen in the corner of the page that enables users to read their site while also viewing video content. Netflix’s version, first reported by Engadget, is similar, with the video player floating across other windows and apps. Engadget says that according to some users, the pop-out player can be resized by clicking and dragging the window, though it reportedly doesn’t support subtitles yet.

Netflix confirmed to Engadget that the feature is being tested with some users, but said there’s no guarantee it will become a permanent thing.

Netflix may have gotten the idea from Apple, which is also said to be testing a similar feature in its TvOS 13 platform, which is set to be launched later in the year. Google also offers a pop-out player feature for its Android operating system.

Netflix’s second idea is more original though - “Project Rumble Pak”, as it’s tentatively being called, is meant for those who watch its content on their smartphones, and as the name suggests, the idea is to hammer home the impact of action scenes by using the phone’s vibration capabilities to ‘rumble’ along in time to the on-screen action.

The idea seems to borrow from the rumbling features seen in video console controllers such as the PlayStation DualShock or Xbox One remotes, which provide haptic feedback based on what’s happening during games.

The merits of the idea are a bit questionable though as smartphones aren’t really designed for this kind of function, and we imagine it wouldn’t feel quite the same as a video games controller that is. For example, Nintendo’s Switch console remote has far superior haptic feedback functionality as it was designed with that in mind, to the point that it can even mimic the feeling of an ice cube moving around in a glass. Still, we’ll be keeping an open mind on this one, as you never know what future smartphones might be capable of.