Android mobile phone users that have anxiously awaited the arrival of a Netflix app for their devices need wait no longer: A leaked version of the upcoming app has found its way onto the Internet and can be installed on devices with Android version 2.2 or later. The only problem is, while users will be able to install the app, search titles and view films and TV shows in their instant queue, they won’t be able to actually stream video over the app.
According to Droid Life, the Netflix APK (Android package) was pulled from an LG Revolution system dump and has found its way onto multiple mirrors across Android fan and news sites. Since then, Android users who have installed the app report most Netflix functionality is there, including the ability to brose different genres, search for individual titles or stars and even view your instant queue. But the thing doesn’t stream — which, of course, is the main appeal of any mobile video app.
Android users have been anxiously waiting for a mobile app from Netflix that will give them all the same functionality iOS users currently enjoy. A Netflix app was available at launch for the iPad, and an iPhone version was released a little later. But Android users have had to wait, while Netflix has worked to develop an app that works across multiple mobile devices.
The two main issues Netflix has faced in creating an app for Android are device fragmentation and the lack of a common DRM standard for the mobile OS. While a majority of Android devices — about 63 percent — now run Android 2.2 or higher, devices from different manufacturers and different carriers frequently add features and code that require tweaking to ensure apps work across multiple phones and tablets, even if they’re running the same version of the OS.
More importantly, as Greg Peters from Netflix product development explained in a blog post last November, Android lacks a common security mechanism across devices. Unlike iOS devices, which have a standardized codebase and DRM built-in, Netflix needs to work with individual device manufacturers to ensure the content it streams is protected. So even when Netflix officially launches its Android app to the broader marketplace, it’s unlikely to work with all Android devices, but will only be usable on a handful of phones and tablets Netflix had targeted for release.