Netflix has finally solved one of the most frustrating complaints of its many users, at least when it comes to downloading titles to watch offline. Quite a few movies and TV shows on Netflix, including all of the streamer's original titles, are available to be downloaded to devices in order to be watched online. However, if that download isn't complete, you're simply out of luck. Netflix is aiming to change that with a new feature that will allow viewing to begin with partial downloads.
On Monday morning, Netflix rolled out a feature to its Android mobile app that lets a title start playing once the download begins. Say you're trying to download a three-hour film for a one-hour plane ride. Traditionally, you'd only be able to watch that first hour if the entire film was downloaded. With this new feature, however, you can watch whatever has been downloaded offline. If you only download that first hour, you can still watch it, even if the download isn't complete.
If you're watching and downloading simultaneously, and the download happens to pause for whatever reason, your title will continue playing until you reach the end of the download. If you reach a place where the downloading can resume, it will do so as you continue watching your title. This allows data to be reserved for downloading, rather than streaming.
Right now, the partial downloading feature is only available on Android mobile devices, so it isn't available to everyone just yet. However, Netflix has confirmed that it will be testing the new feature on Apple's iOS devices in the coming months, so it won't be too long before more folks will be able to try it out.
"We always want to make it easier for members to access their favorite series or movies regardless of language, device, connectivity, or location," Netflix product innovation vice president Keela Robison wrote in a recent blog post. "So partial downloading is now available on Android phones and tablets, and we'll begin testing on iOS in the coming months."
What do you think of Netflix's latest feature? Are you going to be giving it a try? Let us know in the comments!