Shuffle Play isn't the only new feature Netflix has been working on. The video streaming service claims to have improved sound quality on Android devices, thanks to support for the xHE-AAC audio codec.
This codec will "improve intelligibility in noisy environments," Netflix states on its tech blog (opens in new tab), which goes on to explain in meticulous detail how it aims to normalise loudness volume while maintaining dynamic range for more comfortable listening. In addition to improving clarity in noisy surrounding, the new codec will also allow the audio to adapt to variable cellular connections, so you shouldn't suffer even if you have iffy mobile reception. Netflix introduced this bitrate adaptive methodology on the video side of things in 2019, so we're glad it's now come to audio too.
To take advantage of these improved audio features, you'll need to watch Netflix on a device running Android 9 or later, the operating system versions that have native support for the xHE-AAC codec.
The codec is also supported by iOS 13 and later as well as Amazon's Fire OS 7 and later. Netflix says in its blog that it expects its lessons learned "to apply to other platforms that support the new codec", so expect these operating systems to gain the same skills soon.
Netflix has had a bumper year, adding over 36 million customers globally in 2020. That takes its total number of subscribers to over 203 million.
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