Media

Netflix’s new virtual assistant is a somewhat annoying way to discover new movies

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In our data-driven world, few things are more cold than the five-star rating system. There’s just no human touch.

Netflix is trying to change that with “Max” its new, somewhat obnoxious conversational recommendation system. Built on the back of Netflix’s algorithms, Max suggests users new content based on their mood, viewing history, and how they rate certain titles. Netflix has been testing the feature for a while now on the PS3, but it’s slowly expanding Max’s availability to other devices, including the iPad.

The only problem — and this won’t become clear until you watch the video below — is how annoying the whole thing seems. While Max’s recommendations are obviously powerful, I can’t help but that feel most people will be too annoyed by the feature’s tedious recommendation process — as well as Max’s overwhelming, You Don’t Know Jack-inspired effervescence — to bother with it. Sometimes people just want to be told what to watch.

This, if nothing else, exposes the tough balance for these sort of conversational layers: While tech companies obviously want to bring a more human, natural touch to interfaces, there’s also the risk that those interfaces can interfere with the basic experience of using an app. And Max seems to be on the wrong side of that balance — at least so far.

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