If you've ever watched TV shows with me, chances are you're aware that I am a compulsive skip-and-repeater. I skip scenes that I find annoying, painfully awkward, or downright dumb, and I tend to repeat scenes and episodes that resonate with me. As a result, how you fast-forward and rewind on a given service is super-duper important to me, especially on a smart TV where you can't simply drag your finger across the progress bar.
For instance, Hulu and Netflix have the left and right buttons on your remote dictating "seek back and forth" in a video, which makes it easy to start skipping and stop skipping without much effort. On the other hand, on YouTube and Amazon Prime, you to hit multiple buttons in order to start skipping ahead or doubling back on a scene. Disney+ unfortunately falls into that latter, slower category when you're using Disney+ with a regular remote.
So why is seeking on Disney+ my favorite thing about the new service? Simple: when you add a controller, things get magical. They also get addictive, which is why I need every other streaming service to get on this level.
Using a controller rather than a remote makes browsing and watching streaming services easier for most services, but it's night and day on Disney+ because of the seamless control offered by using the rear triggers to fast forward through yet another Doofenshmirtz backstory. Trigger seeking is the slowest of Disney+'s three seek speeds — and you can use the proper controls on screen if you need to rewind to the first half of the movie if your boyfriend fell asleep again — and it makes it the absolutely perfect tool for skipping ahead to precise spots or rewinding just far enough to repeat that joke your friends' laughter covered up.
Using my triggers — and a fairly ridiculous knowledge of the scene breakdown for most Disney movies and shows — I can use my NVIDIA Shield Controller (though you can use any console or third-party controller with Bluetooth support) to navigate to my favorite scenes and musical numbers with pinpoint precision. It's an absurd party trick, to be sure, but one I wish I could replicate with all streaming services, from Hulu to YouTube to Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime Video and Twitch would especially benefit from trigger seeking, as fast-forwarding and rewinding on these platforms is absolute torture. When I'd rather dig out my phone and Chromecast Good Omens rather than use the smart TV app, you know the UI team screwed the pooch, but that's how bad Prime Video's UI is for Android TV and Apple TV.
Using a video game controller to watch movies may have seemed niche even a few years ago, but these days you can pair a DualShock or Xbox controller with most streaming boxes and even some major smart TV brands. That makes it a shame that more apps haven't followed Disney's lead and added in extra controls to take advantage of a controller's extra buttons and comfy button layout.
Of the many movie and TV apps I've tried on Android TV, only two have had any useful controls for controller users: Disney+ has trigger seeking and YouTube uses the shoulder buttons to go to the previous or next video in your current playlist. YouTube's version is far, far less useful, but Disney's could and should be brought to all apps because it is genuinely useful.
Disney+ might be missing a great many features at the moment — seriously, I need a playlist feature now — but trigger seeking keeps me coming back night after night for more miniseries and musicals. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some Mandalorian to catch up on and then Episodes 1 through 8 to fast-forward through before next Thursday.
Practically perfect playback controls
For the skip-and-repeat Disney fan in your life.
Whether your kid wants to skip all the scary scenes — I don't blame you, kid, I skip all the Jafar scenes, too! — or they just want to dance along to You're Welcome for the 500th time, Disney+'s trigger seeking makes precise seeking easy for the young and the young at heart.
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