Netflix has announced a new feature launching for Android smartphones and tablets today, and coming to iOS devices later this year, called "Smart Downloads." With this turned on, the Netflix app will automatically delete the downloaded episode of a show that you've finished watching offline, and replace it by automatically downloading the next episode in line (via BuzzFeed News).

netflix smart downloads
The company says this will help to save space on smartphones and tablets while ensuring that users can keep binges going without having to search through the app's menus for the next episode they want to watch offline. Netflix explains that Smart Downloads are only activated when users are connected to Wi-Fi and are done with an episode.

"Downloading is a very manual process today," Netflix director of product innovation Cameron Johnson told BuzzFeed News. "And you have to manually go back and delete episodes."

How is this useful? Imagine you download an episode or two of Stranger Things at home and watch it on the subway ride to work. Once you connect to your office WiFi, Netflix will delete the episodes you've already watched and seamlessly download the next one in the background.

If users want to keep an episode downloaded to their device without having to worry about Smart Downloads deleting it, the feature can be turned off as well. Smart Downloads only work for episodic TV shows and will not automatically replace a movie with another similar program.


Netflix first introduced offline downloads in November 2016, allowing viewers to download select shows and films to their devices to watch them during moments when they aren't connected to the internet. Most of Netflix's originals are supported for offline viewing, and all content available for download can be found in the "Search" tab of the Netflix mobile app.

Smart Downloads will launch for iOS devices sometime "later this year."

Tag: Netflix

Top Rated Comments

tooloud10 Avatar
52 months ago
This is how it should have worked from the beginning. I just want to watch a show, not manually download and delete individual episodes of everything.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adambadamh Avatar
52 months ago
A sort of random aside, but I noticed the other day Netflix is backing up some large portion of the shows you have downloaded to iCloud Backup. Was trying to figure out why my iCloud storage kept spiking and this was the culprit. I turned off Netflix backup for iCloud but wonder why they had this ever enabled to start.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
borgranta Avatar
52 months ago
My understanding is that many applications actually start on iOS for a variety of reasons. One of them being that the App Store is a more vibrant marketplace and Apple users tend to spend more money on apps than Android users do. In my experience, the very best apps that I have seen and used either start on both platforms at the same time, or iOS 1st .
A simple error in coding could cause it to delete data that should be left untouched. Let the Android users beta test it and if it is proven safe it can then be used on iPhone.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Aniruddh Avatar
52 months ago
But are China and India among the highest Netflix users?

That's what I meant by "this particular example"
Not sure about highest but they are among the highest:

http://www.bgr.in/news/indians-among-top-downloaders-of-content-on-mobile-phones-for-netflix/
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
52 months ago
Nice idea. But they can’t do this on iOS.
Why not? Background tasks are allowed to download content on iOS.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kamion Avatar
52 months ago
Nice idea. But they can’t do this on iOS.
Background Fetch was basically made for this.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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