Netflix users on Android just got the offline viewing update we’ve all been waiting for

Netflix made the announcement back in 2016 that users would be able to watch shows offline if they downloaded them, a feat which led its (then) 86 million subscribers (now more like 104 million) to spontaneously break out into the Hallelujah chorus. Alright, not literally, but the euphoria was palpable. 

Now, Netflix has made the process of even simpler, and even more enjoyable – although only for Android. The streaming platform has enabled “smart downloads” for Android; it automatically deletes episodes you’ve already seen (a godsend for purging yourself of your daily dose of Love Island) AND it replaces the old episode by downloading the next one. Talk about an enabler.

It’s an absolute blessing for those without much storage (read: everyone) as it can ensure you don’t fill up your storage super quickly, particularly if you don’t have an SD card for expansion. And if your chest is contracting over the potential hit your data allowance could take, never fear – the feature only works via WiFi, so you don’t have to be on constant guard monitoring your 3G/4G usage.

And if you’re a classic re-watcher, then you can tinker with settings to switch smart downloads off, meaning your old episodes stay safely ensconced in your downloads folder. 

As for now, it’s unclear whether or not the feature is on its way to iPhone and iPad users, although those among us will be crossing our fingers for an imminent update. 

Offline playback is a feature that public transport commuters, frequent fliers and people with capped internet access have been crying out for ages now. While it has been a feature of Amazon Prime Video for some time, Netflix has resisted the option until now.

“Many of your favourite streaming series and movies are already available for download, with more on the way, so there is plenty of content available for those times when you are offline,” wrote Eddy Wu, director of product innovation at Netflix. “For example, Orange is The New Black, Narcos and The Crown are available for download today.”

That may sound like the options are limited to Netflix originals, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Take a look at the screenshots below to see how many of my colleague Vaughn’s favourite shows seem to be ready for him to take underground when society collapses and Wi-Fi is hard to come by:netflix_data

As for the regular scheduled service (read: the one confined to iOS users), there are a couple of caveats, but they’re pretty minor. The first is that not everything is included, but you get the impression that’s the long-term ambition. Second, the feature is limited to smartphones and tablets, so you can’t put shows on your laptop.

That’s about it, though. Just make sure your Netflix app is updated to the latest version, and get downloading. With extra bonuses now, if you’re an Android user. 

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