01 February 2021
Update: December 17, 2020
According to a new report by AndroidPolice, a server-side roll-out looks to have started that enables audio-only mode for the users on Android. The feature is not coming to any specific section or genre streaming inside the Netflix Android app, instead, it is a mode that can be turned on for any video you are watching.
As per the screenshots shared by the publication, a video off button can be seen on the top of the videos, tapping on which shows a black screen. This enables the audio-only mode so that you can just listen to the content being played on the screen. This brings up podcasts like experience where you are just listening to your favorite show and also saving your data.
The Settings menu also shows an Audio Only option that lets you choose when this feature should be enabled. There are three options, ‘Always On', ‘Headphones or External Speakers', and ‘Off.'
This appears to be a server-side rollout only as not everyone on Android with the latest app version installed is able to enable this feature. Let us know are you seeing this option on your Netflix app?
Original Post (October 27, 2020)
Netflix is a popular platform for watching movies and TV shows spread across different genres and languages. The app for the service is filled with features like offline downloads to enhance the user experience. The team now appears to be working on one more such feature that will offer a new way of consuming content.
As spotted by XDA folks, Netflix is testing background audio playback mode on Android. It is a mode dedicated to allowing users to listen to the audio of shows and movies without the need for watching them. It means users will be able to start watching something and then minimize the app to work on something else or simply lock the phone. The new mode will not pause the content in such a scenario which is what happens in the current situation.
This new feature has been spotted in the APK teardown of Netflix version 7.79.1. There is a code string with reference, "Save your data by turning off the video and listening to your favorite shows." There is another code reference that says, "The video is off, but you can continue listening to your show while you are busy doing other things."
In other words, users will not be required to have Netflix video playback going on if they are only interested in the audio. This is similar to the user experience YouTube Premium offers. Data saving is another benefit of the new feature as video playback consumes most of the data. The feature has only been found in a teardown and is hard to guess exactly when and if Netflix will decide to make it available for masses.