Netflix has been testing variable playback speeds in its Android app, Android Police was first to report Friday. The new feature allows users to play movies and TV shows at a variety of speeds, ranging from 0.5x (half as fast) all the way to 1.5x.
The feature is apparently being tested with a small subset of Android users; a Netflix spokesperson confirmed the test in a statement to Variety:
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“We’re always looking for new ways to help our fans enjoy content they love, so we’re testing playback speed options on mobile devices. Our tests generally vary in how long they run for and in which countries they run in, and they may or may not become permanent features on our service.”
Variable playback speeds are a bit of an uncommon feature for streaming video services, but widely used in the podcasting space, giving users a chance to listen to their favorite podcasts at a faster pace. Perhaps, Netflix subscribers will use the feature for the same purpose for documentaries and stand-up comedy.
This isn’t the first time that Netflix employees have been inspired by podcasting. Back in 2017, two of the company’s engineers build a dedicated audiobook mode as part of a Netflix hack day.
That feature would have allowed users to not only listen to the dialogue of a movie, but also the audio descriptions that are being included with many titles for accessibility reasons.
Interestingly, the audiobook mode hack also included variable playback speeds. Netflix’s hack day projects almost never turn into actual products, but the audio book mode may have served as an inspiration for this new test.
Update: This post was updated with a Netflix statement.
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