Ever since the Kinect launched last year, Microsoft has been slowly adding additional features and support for the device on Xbxo 360 consoles. The latest update arrives today in the form of the long-promised voice and motion control functionality for the console's Netflix Watch Instantly application.
The news comes via a Microsoft press release, which touts the newly updated Netflix as the only place to enjoy the service in a "controller-free" environment. My iPad app begs to differ, but the point is clear enough. No one's going to complain about being able to tell their TV in a commanding voice to play the latest available episode of "Glee."
"By integrating Kinect into the Netflix experience on Xbox LIVE, we're continuing to transform the way people enjoy their favorite entertainment in the living room," Xbox Live general manager Pete Thompson said in a statement. "Since its launch, Netflix has always been one of the most popular services on Xbox LIVE, so we are excited to deliver a brand new way to control this experience in a way that can't be found anywhere else."
In case you're a newcomer to the Xbox Live-powered face of Netflix, a Gold membership is required along with a subscription to the popular video streaming and rental service to make use of the application and its features. The Kinect functionality will be added automatically via a 43MB update the next time you load it up. To activate the motion control features, simply say "Xbox play" at the main dashboard or wave frantically at the screen once Netflix is loaded up, just like you would to access the Kinect Hub.
The in-video controls work just fine, but the front-end support still needs a little bit of work. Accessing the Kinect side of the application is similar to accessing the Kinect Hub; a separate menu screen loads up with device-specific controls and access points. Unfortunately, this screen so far offers just a handful of movies and TV shows, picked seemingly at random. More updates will certainly improve the range of available options, but for now most will probably stick to selecting what to watch with a controller. Yelling at your TV to Stop and Play works beautifully though. Yelling is optional, but always preferred.