Netflix rolls out individual user profiles, offers personalized recommendations for the whole family
By Ian Paul
TechHiveAug 1, 2013 7:11 am PDT
Soon, you won’t have to worry about getting recommendations for Barney episodes and romantic comedies mixed in with your superhero cartoons and high-powered action flicks. On Thursday, Netflix said multi-user profiles for single accounts will begin rolling out to all users worldwide. If you don’t see the new addition to your account yet, Netflix says you will get it within the next two weeks, though not all devices will support multiple profiles out of the gate.
With multi-user profiles, viewing tastes for each member of your family no longer have to be jumbled together into one giant mess. So if you’re watching “Orange Is The New Black,” while your significant other is more interested in “House of Cards,” the latter show won’t overtake the former in the coveted “Recently Watched” slot on your Netflix home page.
Multi-user profiles also mean recommendations for new shows and movies can be more precisely tailored to the viewing tastes of individual members of your household. That’s an especially great boon for parents who don’t have much use for Elmo and Curious George videos after 9 p.m.
Playing with Netflix profiles
Netflix began testing user profiles with a select number of accounts back in January. We took a look at the feature back then and not a lot has changed with the official rollout. Each account can add up to five user profiles, and you can specify whether profiles are for children under 12. Profiles for kids display Netflix’s Just for Kids section, along with recommendations for other kids’ shows based on previously viewed content.
Unlike the test market version, the official rollout will let you use your Facebook profile photo as your Netflix avatar, assuming your Facebook account is connected to Netflix. The company’s generic user account avatars are also a little different with the official release. When we first looked at the feature, Netflix was offering cartoon-like avatars such as a cowboy, dog, football player, and ninja. Now, profile photos are more anime than animated with generic, square-shaped profile pics.
Using multi-user profiles is pretty straightforward. On Netflix.com, user profile icons appear in the upper-left corner of the home page. To switch between users you simply hove over the account profile and select the next profile you’d like to see from the drop-down menu. Adding more user profiles is as simple as hovering in the same spot and then selecting “Manage Profiles.”
Netflix’s multi-user profiles is a useful addition, but it would be nice to see added security features such as password controls in future versions. Children’s profiles, for example, are helpful to keep kids away from mature content; however, there’s nothing stopping a child who knows how to use a mouse from switching over to an adult account. So a planned viewing session of “Johnny Test” could easily become a raucous hour of Expendables 2 if parents aren’t keeping a close eye on the television.
You can only add accounts via Netflix.com or on the PlayStation 3, but multi-user profiles are viewable on a wider array of set-top boxes and mobile devices than before. The list now includes Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, most Smart TVs, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. One notable name missing from multi-user support is Roku, the original Netflix set-top box.
We’ve sent a note to Netflix to see if Roku will support the new feature at launch. Even if it doesn’t, Netflix did say that support for additional devices will be added in the coming months. So if your favorite Netflix device doesn’t support multi-user profiles yet, look for it soon.