If you are in Latin America and subscribed to Disney’s newest streaming service, Star+, you may have noticed it’s a Disney+ clone, but with a few upgrades. Some of which are things people have been wanting to see on Disney+ since it launched November 2019. One of those features rectifies our biggest complaint that we’ve been writing articles about for a while. Since Star+ and Disney+ share the same underlying code, Disney+ should have the same capabilities soon.
It makes sense for Disney to test-drive new features on Star+. It only exists in 18 countries (so far), rendering it easy to manage and limiting the possible damage if there are bugs. Here are 4 of the cool new features that are (thus far) only available on Star+.
1. Watchlist Row On Home Screen
Star+ finally corrects the biggest mistake Disney made at launch of Disney+ – not properly implementing a watchlist. This would have silenced the articles and reddit posts and social media complaints about the “bug” where the watchlist row was missing. Turns out it wasn’t a bug, but a “feature.” With this tweak users can now access the watchlist the original way, from a tab or menu option that leads to a separate page, but also through a row on the home screen. This is a feature all streaming services except Disney+ and Hulu have. The reasons this watchlist row feature is considered essential is that it helps remind people what they intended to watch and it reduces clicks to access saved titles. Good user interface / experience makes things easy and saves clicks. Hopefully this means Hulu is about to be the only service missing this basic feature.
Since Star+ also include sports content they actually have two watchlist rows – one for sports and one for films and series. Disney+ would only require one. Check out this photo of the two watchlists courtesy @OCamundongo on Twitter.
You’ll notice the sports watchlist also utilizes different shaped tiles to set it apart. We expect the watchlist row to roll out before November 12th as it makes sense for it to be present on South Korea launch day. In addition, we expect November 12th to be the launch day for Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The other reason November 12th or earlier should see this new watchlist feature migrate to Disney+ is to ensure its presence before the Disney+ Day celebration. Fixing user interface mistakes before all these new eyes turn to the service is wise.
2. Coming Soon Section
The most requested feature online is a Coming Soon section. Disney+ is one of the only services missing a Coming Soon row or page. We’ve spoken about this too. While Star+ doesn’t have the greatest implementation, it’s better than nothing.
Star+ subscribers can see a list of upcoming sports events in a row. This could easily translate into something useful for Disney+. Since Disney adds “landing pages” for titles with pre-installed “coming soon” dates they could easily code it so those titles are fed into this section. We expect this feature to take longer than the Watchlist row to show up on Disney+ since Star+ seems to only use it for sporting events.
3. Goodbye Monotonous Rectangle Grid
We alluded to this a bit earlier when we mentioned the square tiles and the previous two screenshots both show it in action. Another major complaint about Disney+ has always been the boring, bland, and monotonous sea of same shape and size rectangles that make up the service’s home screen and other pages. All streaming services have rectangle tiles to display the titles, but ONLY Disney+ insisted on them all being the same size and orientation.
Star+ throws that out the window incorporating square tiles and vertically oriented rectangles in addition to the use horizontal ones. Scrolling is no longer a chore and no longer results in your eyes growing weary. It’s easier now for titles to jump out and be noticed instead of blending together.
This also is reflected on the Movie and Series tabs. Whereas Disney+ shows these pages as a big blob of rectangles, Star+ spotlights some featured titles at the top and creates rows, similar to the home screen. For comparison here is the Disney+ Series Page and Films Page.
Nothing. Just Rectangles.
Now enjoy these superior Star+ versions of the same pages.
We think these simple, yet sensible upgrades will come the same time the new Watchlist appears. Probably some time in October but hopefully sooner. There is also speculation that that wasted space on the square cards seen on the Series page is going to house an “add to watchlist” button or something like that. In some places on the service those square cards feature metadata including the duration and content rating. Clearly it’s a work in progress.
4. Improved Search
On Disney+ the search page is just a search bar and a bunch of collections.
On Star+ the search page includes a row of recent searches above the collections. They also have cute short cuts to different sports but we envision this being used on Disney+ with character faces! Mickey Mouse! Oswald! lol jk, Disney isn’t streaming his shorts for some reason.
While we don’t have pictures, we hear Star+ search separate results into categories such as “Movies” and “Series” and “Sports.” If true, that also helps. Ideally “Collections” should be indexed and found through search.
The overall vibe from Star+ is that it’s Disney+ 2.0. In a lot of ways Star+ UI is what Disney+ UI should have been at launch. We are hopeful that most of these tweaks will be present on Disney+ by November 12th.
If you’re concerned that Disney won’t bring these features across “streaming service lines” we encourage you to leave feedback for Disney+ Operations team through help.disneyplus.com. Click “Give Feedback,” then “Suggest a new feature” and select “App Navigation” or “Watchlist.” Ask for the Star+ UI upgrades!
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.