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Netflix Goes Android-First with Tablet App Redesign

Netflix's move was probably prompted by the debut of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet as well as Amazon streaming video service.

Thanks to the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, Android tablets are getting a redesigned Netflix app before Apple's iPad.

The new Netflix app displays recently watched movies and TV shows as thumbnail video stills instead of simple buttons. Categories, which previously displayed only four selections each on the home page, now appear in rows that users can scroll through. Netflix says the new interface displays twice as many movies and TV shows as before. The overall effect is an app that looks more modern than its predecessor.

Netflix's app update is available now on all Android tablets, including Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet. An update for the iPad will be ready "in the coming weeks," Netflix said in a blog post.

For mobile apps, and especially for tablet apps, going Android-first is a rarity. The number of tablet apps in the Android Market is tiny compared with the number of iPad tablet apps, and many popular apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Pandora still haven't been optimized for Android tablets. Even Netflix's Android phone app took nine months longer to arrive than the iPhone version, although that was mainly due to DRM issues.

Although Netflix didn't explain why it's bringing the update to Android tablets first, I can make a guess: The company wants to provide a great experience on the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet to compete with Amazon's own streaming video service, especially with so many people buying the Fire sight unseen.

If that's the case, the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet may actually be a boon for all Android tablets, prompting developers to stay competitive by optimizing their apps for larger screens. They just needed a top-selling tablet as motivation, and now they've finally got one.

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