It's good to start a new year with a fresh slate. With 12 months of possibility ahead of you.
Also it's good to start with a new Black Mirror feature on Netflix. And that's exactly what we've got with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. As is always the case with Black Mirror, it's introspection in its darkest form. And while this isn't the first feature for the series, it's the first that's also interactive. As in Choose Your Own Adventure-style. OK, maybe more like Choose Your Own Circle Of Hell-style, but you get the idea.
Here's the gist, from Netflix itself:
In 1984, a young programmer begins to question reality as he adapts a sprawling fantasy novel into a video game and soon faces a mind-mangling challenge.
Fair enough. That's certainly not out of the scope of what we'd expect from Black Mirror.
But — and this is a pretty big but — there's a decent chance you won't be able to partake in the interactive bit.
The biggest hit for cord-cutters will be from Apple TV, which simply is not supported. Same goes for Chromecast, too, though that's a little less surprising given that it's not quite as much of a remote control as you might think. Also not supported: The Netflix app on Windows, and browsers that use Silverlight. Though to be fair, you shouldn't be using a browser with Silverlight at this point anyway.
Xbox and PlayStation are supported so no worry for gaming consoles, however some users have complained of the app crashing - so you mileage may vary.
If you try to watch Bandersnatch on an unsupported device, you'll be greeted by an overly cheery montage of characters apologizing. That doesn't really make up for anything, but it's better than a static warning, I guess.
The good news is that you'll be able to watch just fine on Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Android TV, Android and iOS. (Android for phones and tablets is limited to Bandersnatch and Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout. You'll also need to be on the latest updates for apps, so be sure to check for that.
It's early days yet for interactive content on Netflix. Here's what's currently available:
- Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, available now.
- Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile, available now.
- Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout, available now.
- Minecraft: Story Mode, available now.
- Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, available now.
More interactive content is on the way, Netflix says. Save for Minecraft and Bandersnatch, non-supported devices will be able to show linear versions of the programs instead.
Here's the full fine print from Netflix:
Interactive content is available on many newer devices, including smart TVs, streaming media players, game consoles, and iOS devices running the latest version of the Netflix app.
Chromecasts, the Windows App, browsers using Silverlight and Apple TVs do not support interactive content at this time.
Sometimes a device update is needed to ensure your TV has the newest Netflix app. If you're not sure how to update the system software on your TV, you can check your owner's manual or contact the manufacturer. Please note that an update does not guarantee that your TV will be compatible with interactive content.
For steps on updating the application on an iOS device, see How do I update the Netflix app on my iPhone, iPad or iPod touch?
Playback on Android is only supported with Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout (Android 6.11 or later) and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Android 6.19 or later).
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