Netflix announced a new "Smart Downloads" feature on Tuesday in the hopes of appealing to commuters and binge-watchers.
The streaming service began allowing users to download select content back in 2016, but the process has always required a little foresight. Viewers could download TV shows and movies to their phone, tablet or laptop while they were in range of WiFi and then watch on the go.
On Tuesday, Netflix's Director of Product Innovation, Cameraon Johnson, announced in the company's official blog that it will be expanding these capabilities. With the new Smart Downloads option, the Netflix app will automatically delete episodes that have been watched and download the next episode as soon the device is in range of WiFi. This way, binge-watchers won't have to plan ahead in order to keep their show playing on the move.
“You watch, we do the work,” Johnson wrote simply. “We know how annoying it can be to go through all your apps and delete files you no longer need; we also understand that when it comes to Netflix, the faster you can get to the next episode you want to watch, the better.”
Smart Downloads is now available on all up-to-date Android phones and tablets. Johnson's said that it would "initially" be available on those devices alone, but did not mention when it might come to computers, Apple products or other devices.
In addition, Smart Downloads currently applies only to episodic TV. Netflix has yet to add it to movies, specials or other content.
Still, the new option is an amazing feat of automation. Netflix's FAQ on Smart Downloads promises that it will never use cellular data, as the app recognizes when it comes into WiFi range.
“We also want to emphasize that giving consumers more control over their entertainment experience is at the heart of everything we do,” Johnson explained. The company has put increasing focus on mobile viewers in recent years. Netflix has become a staple for many commuters on mass transit. As the app has gotten easier to use, it has become more and more common to see people watching Netflix in waiting rooms, at the gym and even in the park.0comments
This is yet another stride for the company that has taken over the entertainment industry. At the beginning of this year, Netflix stated a plan to spend $8 billion on content in 2018 -- both new and returning shows. However, earlier this week the company announced that it may have underestimated itself.
According to a report by Forbes, Netflix is now planning to spend $13 billion this year in total. Even more staggeringly, between 85 percent and 90 percent of that money is expected to go to original content, while the rest will allow Netflix to license existing stories.