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If you’re been pining for the ability to fire up Netflix and just start watching something—anything!—without having to scroll through endless rows of movies and TV shows, today is your lucky day.
Vulture reports that Netflix is finally set to roll out its “Play Something” feature, which allows Netflix to pick and begin playing a video based on your viewing habits.
The “Play Something” feature, which—in one form or another—Netflix has been testing for more than a year, will begin rolling out today to Netflix TV apps, as well as for Android users, according to Vulture. I didn’t see the feature on the Netflix apps for Apple TV, Fire TV, or Roku players, but I’m guessing they’ll be updated soon.
Vulture says that Netflix will ask users if they’d like to opt-in to the “Play Something” feature. Once they do, a “Not sure what to watch” banner replaces the usually gallery of videos (which, presumably, you’ll be able to return to if you wish), while a prominent “Play Something” button appears. The button will also sit in the left-hand navigational menu, as well as at the bottom of user profiles on the initial Netflix start screen.
Click the button, and Netflix will pick something for you to watch “based on your tastes”—or, presumably, according to Netflix’s vaunted algorithm that guesses which movies and shows you’ll be most interested in. You’ll be able to skip ahead to another video or jump back to a previous one once Netflix starts playing a selection.
Netflix’s “Play Something” feature has taken many forms in the past. Back in 2019, Netflix tried a shuffle mode that would pick an episode from your favorite TV show, while a “Shuffle Play” button appeared for some users of Netflix’s connected TV apps last summer.
Vulture notes that Netflix sees “Play Something” as an antidote to “decision fatigue,” a malady that will be familiar to any Netflix users who’s even scrolled aimlessly through row after row of videos. Indeed, sometimes it feels like we spend more time looking for something to watch on Netflix than we actually do watching something.
The “Play Something” button also harkens back to the old broadcast TV days (and seeing a revival with so-called “linear,” ad-supported streaming TV), when you’d just turn on the tube and watch whatever’s on.
But will Netflix users actually warm to a “Play Something” option? After all, watching a movie is much more of a time commitment than, say, playing a shuffle on Spotify. I can’t imagine that “Play Something” will do anything more than simply play one of the videos that I skip over during an epic Netflix scrolling section.
Still, looks like we’re about to find out.
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Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart home and home entertainment products.