Amazon has added individual user profiles to its video service, with personalised recommendations and watchlists. Such a basic feature has been a long time coming to Amazon Prime Video and will go some way to improving the user experience in terms of personal recommendations and parental controls. However, video viewing is sometimes a matter of personal preference and sometimes a shared experience, which makes this rather more complicated.
A single Amazon account will allow for up to six user profiles: one default primary profile and up to five additional adult or child profiles.
The service will be personalised separately to each profile, with separate recommendations, watch history, season progress and watch list based on individual profile activity.
Profiles can be established and managed through the Amazon Prime Video web site or through the app on iOS, Android devices, Fire Tablets, or on Fire TV and other living room devices.
Prime Video makes sure that only age-appropriate TV shows and movies rated for viewers of 12 and under are visible in Kids profile. Search results and search suggestions will also be filtered.
Purchases are disabled in the Kids profile. To block purchases on other profiles, they can be protected by a personal identification code.
The feature is rolling out globally, so not all users will immediately see user profile options. The feature does not appear to be working properly in the United Kingdom yet but now doubt will be coming soon.
Netflix had separate profiles on its web site from when it was a disc by mail service. Back in 2008 they removed this feature but reinstated it short afterwards in response to user feedback.
Netflix refined the profiles feature in 2013, supporting up to five profiles, associated either with individuals or use cases. Each profile can have its own language preference, maturity level, specific viewing restrictions, profile lock, viewing activity log, subtitle and playback settings and personalised recommendations.
Other services, like the BBC iPlayer, have also introduced separate user profiles, both to improve personal recommendations and to support parental control features.
While selecting a particular profile can improve usability and utility, it can also introduce complexity and confusion. Although some people may be viewing alone, it is often a shared experience, which makes the question of who is watching rather more subtle than simply switching between accounts.