The personalized recommendation tool sits in either the third or fourth horizontal slider on the home screen, but will eventually move further down if the user decides it’s not for them.
There are a few different ways to interact with Max; one shows three different genres, followed by a number of titles which the user can rate or play. After submitting a couple of responses, the personal assistant offers a new title based on the users’ choices. There’s some dialog in between to make the whole process feel a little more natural, (“Are you up for it?”) but the humor comes off as being rather cheesy in most instances.
There are a few other games to help viewers find new content, such as the ‘Mood Ring’, which asks whether they would prefer to watch one actor or actress over another. The app then serves up a suggestion featuring that specific star.
If the viewer is truly stumped for something to watch, Max can also be used to select a TV show or movie at random. The app doesn’t tell the user what the title is until it starts playing, adding to the mystery of the process. Again, the selections are based on the users’ preferences and viewing history, improving the quality of the selections somewhat.
Netflix jokes on its company blog that Max is “rumored to be the child of Siri and Hal 9000″ and it’s easy to see why. It’s meant to be an accessible, light-hearted way of finding new content on the PlayStation 3.
Jumping through the various hoops and questions guarantees that Max won’t be the fastest or most efficient way of navigating through the app’s library, but that’s almost besides the point. For families, couples and the like, it’s just a fun and personable way of watching on-demand video.
Netflix will roll out Max to US subscribers in the coming weeks and eventually other devices, starting with the iPad. “Please welcome Max and let us know if he misbehaves and fails to demonstrate the A-level performance we demand at Netflix,” Todd Yellin, Vice President of Product Innovation at Netflix.