Netflix is launching a new feature today that aims to bring users more offline content when choosing automatic downloads. By enabling “Downloads for you”, the Netflix app will download recommended TV shows and movies to your mobile device based on your taste, as determined by your Netflix watch history.
After turning on the feature for the first time, you will be able to choose the amount of storage space you would like to dedicate to save these recommended downloads to your device: 1 GB, 3GB or 5GB. There will be downloads when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network, and Netflix believes you like it. Typically, the app will download the first few episodes of a TV show – enough to get you started.
Downloaded content you can also cast on a nearby TV; it will stream directly from your phone. After you watch episodes or movies, you can delete them from the device to free up more storage space the next time you connect to Wi-Fi. Netflix notes that its entire catalog is available for download, not just its own core content. However, there will be some titles with download restrictions due to license restrictions.
The feature is not a replacement for Netflix’s existing offline access feature, known as Smart Downloads, but an addition. Launched in 2018 before being available worldwide, Smart Downloads lets users choose which shows or movies they want to save for offline viewing. Netflix reports that started testing downloads for you in the late 2020s, but today it is primarily offering this feature to all users worldwide on Android. A version for iOS is in the works and will arrive later this year.
Offline downloads may make sense for those traveling – for example, on a plane or underground train, where Internet access is not provided. However, this is also understandable for users in emerging markets, where a reliable cellular connection or bandwidth access may be a cause for concern. During the test, Netflix noted that it saw high use of the feature in the United States, but considering it in emerging market usage – where Android devices are heavier used and connections are often unreliable – it carries special significance. This is especially true in countries like India and Brazil and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We are interested in launching downloads for you. People who choose this new feature will automatically download shows or movies to their device with recommendations based on their tastes,” said Patrick Fleming, Netflix’s product innovation director, in a statement. “Whether you’re connected or not, we want to make your next new favorite series or movie easier.”