The year is 2020. Blade Runner has already happened according to the fiction of that movie. We don’t have androids or flying cars, but we’ve moved past that tech in so many ways. And yet, just as often, we’re stuck wondering what year it is.
Instead of the Android Future, we live in the Streaming Future, where every network has a streaming service for us to pay for and log into.
For many of these services, logging in is absolutely trivial. To run Spotify on another device, you just open Spotify on your phone and select that internet-connected device from your network and Spotify does the rest. Services like YouTube, Crunchyroll and DC Universe send you to a URL – something.website/activate, usually – and you log into that from the convenience of your phone, where you have a keyboard and, if you’re smart, a password manager. Many of these have two-factor authentication, too, that lets you protect your account with a layer of physical security. If I want to log into my Xbox or PlayStation account, I have to approve it from my phone.
Some services, meanwhile, seem to be stuck in 2010. I’m talking, of course, about Disney Plus and Netflix.
Logging into these services is tedious and counter-intuitive to keeping our accounts secure. For these accounts, you have to manually type in your email address one character at a time, which is miserable from a streaming box or game console.
Netflix and Disney can fix this
I’d actually expect this from a smaller company like Crunchyroll or less “online” company like Disney. But Netflix being so far behind makes no sense. Netflix turned streaming media into what it is today. We’ll tell our children that we had to order our movies through the mail and they’ll look at us like we’re space aliens. We’ll talk about how we had to watch shows week-by-week, and how much better that was (it really is better, don’t @ me). Netflix did this.
The company works hard to compress its video streams further and further. That moment when you try to start a show and it takes a full minute to buffer used to be the normal, everyday experience with the Netflix streaming service. Nowadays, shows start previewing before we can switch away from them. My first experience with digital video was watching fan-sub files of Ruroni Kenshin in RealMedia format, which looked small on my 1024×768-resolution screen, which is already just a fraction of the 4K resolution I’m watching The Mandalorian at.
Netflix also knows how to keep us engaged by starting new episodes before the credits can end or by suggesting new shows right we finish our current ones.
And yet, Netflix has us typing in our passwords like we’re running a printing press, selecting one letter at a time. My Netflix password looks more like “1RX2r79XaST5SlPlVQAcsMq&0nrV#Tk2%jg^$bR” than it does “MinnesotaTwins1991” because I want to protect my accounts, but companies like Netflix and Disney Plus make that harder than it has to be. Both companies have the time, money, and technology to make getting into their services nearly frictionless. So why am I sitting here, screaming at my TV as I try to log into my Netflix account so I can get caught up on The Witcher?