What you need to know

  • Netflix is currently running a test that aims to improve video playback quality when someone is on the go.
  • To track a member's physical activity, the Netflix app on Android is requesting access to physical activity data from some users.
  • The company says it has no plan to roll out the feature widely at this time.

Twitter user Beto on Security noticed last week that the Netflix app had requested permission to access physical activity data on his phone. Now, a report published by The Next Web confirms that Netflix is indeed requesting access to physical activity sensors on certain Android devices to help it improve video quality depending on the user's activity.

One of the reporters at The Next Web found that the Netflix app on his Pixel 3 XL already had access to the physical activity sensors without displaying any prior prompt. When he contacted Netflix regarding the issue, the company replied that it has been running a test that involves tracking user's physical activity to help improve video playback quality. The test is now finished, and the feature will not be rolling out widely:

We are continually testing ways to give our members a better experience. This was part of a test to see how we can improve video playback quality when a member is on the go. Only some accounts are in the test, and we don't currently have plans to roll it out.

As noted in the report, it is possible that Netflix is looking to make use of the physical activity recognition permission that Google introduced in Android Q. What isn't clear at this point, is how the streaming giant plans to use the activity data to improve video playback quality on Android devices.

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