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Netflix’s app is getting a cool new feature, but only on Android

Published Jul 10th, 2018 1:29PM EDT
Netflix Smart Downloads
Image: Etienne Laurent/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

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Just like other streaming apps, Netflix lets you download movies and TV shows on your smartphone or tablet so that you can watch your favorite titles even when there’s no Wi-Fi. That’s a great way to save money on your cellular data plan if Netflix streaming isn’t included in your deal, or you don’t have an unlimited data plan.

Netflix on Tuesday announced a cool new feature that makes your download experience even better. If you’re on Android, that is. That’s right, the feature is coming to Android smartphones and tablets first.

Called Smart Downloads, the feature lets you set up automatic downloads on Android without hurting your mobile plan or your local storage. With Smart Downloads enabled, the phone will automatically delete the last watched episode and replace it with the next so that it’s ready for offline viewing. The download takes place only when a known Wi-Fi network is within reach, and Netflix will not use more storage, as it merely swaps out the old episode for the new one.

A download status bar will appear on the screen when a new episode is downloading, and users will be notified when the download is complete. After all, you might not want to disconnect from that Wi-Fi network before your next episode is done.

If storage isn’t a problem and you want to download multiple episodes on your device, you can always turn off Smart Downloads and manage your downloads manually. However, that means you’ll also have to remember to manually delete the episodes you’ve watched once you’re done with them.

The following video shows you Smart Downloads at work, while this help page should provide more information on how to make it work on your mobile device. There’s no telling whether the iPhone app will also get the feature, but Netflix makes it clear in its announcement that Smart Downloads is coming only to Android devices “initially.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.