Netflix on Tuesday announced a brand new feature that will make many users very happy, especially those of who continuously download Netflix shows for offline viewing. Going forward, you won’t have to manually download and then delete Netflix content, as the app will do it for you whenever you’re on Wi-Fi. Smart Downloads will automatically replace each watched episode with the next one in the series, which means it won’t eat up your phone’s memory either.
That’s all great news if you’re on Android, as only Netflix’s Android app got the feature. However, iPhone and iPad users need not despair because iOS is next.
The only reason for Netflix doing this first on Android is because — and I’m speculating here — Smart Downloads is precisely the kind of feature that’s easier to pull off with Google’s lax restrictions on Android developers. Apple has much stricter guidelines it imposes on iOS developers, and they only have access to certain APIs.
Netflix’s app needs to do a bunch of things to automatically download content, things that Apple might not be okay with. Think about it, the app needs to track your content consumption and then monitor wireless activity as it searches for a known Wi-Fi network. Then it has to start the download without any interaction from the user. Then a bar appears on the screen to let you know what’s happening, and a notification tells you when the process is complete.
Of course, your approval is implicit, as you’re allowing the app to behave this way when you enable Smart Downloads.
In its initial announcement, Netflix did say the feature is coming to Android initially, suggesting that iPhone might be next. Now the company confirmed to BuzzFeed that Smart Downloads is indeed coming to iOS “later this year.” Netflix’s Director of Product Innovation Cameron Johnson also explained that the feature doesn’t work with movies. “Netflix isn’t intelligent enough to figure out the exact movie you might want to watch next yet,” he said.