Netflix's 'Smart Downloads' Means More Watching, Less Deleting


Netflix is updating its download feature with one that is said to be smarter. The new updated feature is therefore now being referred to as "Smart Downloads." While the option to download content from Netflix is not changing in the basic sense – you can still download whatever you want, when you want — the updated version focuses more on what happens after someone has downloaded content. Even more specifically, after you have watched the downloaded content.

For example, Netflix has now explained that once a TV show episode has been watched it will automatically be deleted from the device. Netflix argues this is designed to ensure people's devices do not become unnecessarily filled with content they no longer need or have forgotten to remove. As an additional incentive to 'keep watching,' once an episode has been automatically deleted, the next one in the series (if available) will also be automatically downloaded. In other worlds, Smart Downloads will continuously replace watched downloaded episodes with unwatched downloaded episodes, and all without the user having to do anything.

Netflix says that this feature is now available although it is currently only accessible to those downloading content on an Android smartphone or tablet. Although this is designed to accommodate quicker watching while also lessening the demand placed on device storage, Netflix is not making this a compulsory feature. It will, however, be activated by default for users, with those users having the option to turn off Smart Downloads at any point – if, for example, they want to store episodes for repeat viewing. This can be done by heading to the app's Menu, then down to App Settings, Followed by Downloads, and then toggling off Smart Downloads. Alternatively, accessing the toggle by first heading to Downloads, then My Downloads, followed by Smart Downloads. Lastly, as a means to ensure downloads do not affect mobile data costs, caps and/or allowances, Netflix has confirmed Smart Downloads only activates and downloads the next episode when the device is connected to Wi-Fi. The video below provides an overview of what Netflix users can expect with the new Smart Downloads feature.


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John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]

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