Netflix is rolling out a new feature for Android devices called Smart Downloads, which will change the way downloads are handled on compatible devices. The new feature will have your smartphone or tablet automatically delete an episode of a TV series once you’ve watched it, and quietly download the next episode of that series in the background. The feature will be available for Android devices starting today.
Smart Downloads will need to be switched on through the Netflix app settings, and can also be switched off in case you prefer to download and manage your TV shows the old fashioned way. Smart Downloads will be particularly useful for users in developing markets, where many smartphones are entry-level devices with less storage available. By automatically downloading the next episode and deleting the previous one, the feature ensures that the user’s storage isn’t affected, while automating the process of downloading TV show episodes.
WATCH: How Smart Downloads works on Netflix
The Smart Downloads feature only works over Wi-Fi, with no way to use the feature over mobile data for the time being. When the Netflix app detects that an episode of a TV show has been watched, it will download a new episode and delete the old episode only when the device is connected to a Wi-Fi connection. We spoke to Cameron Johnson, Director of Product Innovation at Netflix to get an idea of why this is the case.
“We want to be mindful of users’ smartphone storage and mobile data. For the time being, Smart Downloads is only available on Wi-Fi in order to allow the user to keep control over their mobile data usage from the app. Furthermore, if you don’t have space and data constraints, you can always turn Smart Downloads off and download on Netflix the regular way,” said Mr Johnson. He went on to explain that you can still download movies and TV shows over mobile data, but this would need to be done manually by the user.
Netflix subscribers with plenty of available mobile data and a high-end smartphone would therefore be more likely to manually download shows and movies, and often download a number of episodes, or even an entire season, in a single go. Smart Downloads would therefore be more relevant to users who want to keep their smartphone storage optimally used. It’s important to remember that the feature isn’t adding a massive function; it’s simply automating a process that is currently manual, and will only suit a section of the user base.
Interestingly, Netflix Smart Downloads has been in trial for a limited number of users for some months now. However, this has been a limited trial for a small percentage of users across the globe, with the feature rolling out universally for all Netflix users on the Android platform from today. Netflix also recently released its first show produced in India, Sacred Games. The show, starring Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte, has all of its eight episodes now available to watch on the Netflix platform all over the world.