New auto download tool makes Netflix a bit smarter
Smart downloads on Netflix will automatically start a download based on what users have been watching, but there are several caveats that needs to be addressed
Offline content has become an integral part of video streaming platforms including Netflix, which was one of the first subscription-based services to allow users to download videos. It even added the option to switch to a lower resolution for devices on slower cellular networks.
Starting today, Netflix is rolling out a new feature called Smart Downloads which will keep track of offline content and automatically download the subsequent episodes in a series. Subsequently, if a user downloads one or more episodes of Sacred Games or any other series on Netflix app, Smart Downloads will automatically download the third episode when they finish watching the downloaded episode. The feature works only when the device is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
The only caveat of Smart Downloads is that it will automatically delete the previous episodes before downloading the next. So a user will have to disable the entire feature if they don’t want to get rid of the downloaded content right away. The other issue is that the next download won’t start while a user is watching one of the download episodes. So after completing an episode users will have to wait until the next one is downloaded. It would have been more helpful if the next episode was downloaded while user was watching the previous episode. Netflix needs to sort out these issues in the next update.
Users can activate Smart Downloads in Menu->App Settings->Downloads section of the Android and iOS app which have received the latest update.
Netflix isn’t the only player that has been trying to improve the offline experience for users. YouTube’s smart offline feature allows users to schedule the time when they want a particular video to be automatically downloaded for offline access. However, the feature was meant to take advantage of cheap night data plans offered by operators and worked only with select telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel and Telenor.