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."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.
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.
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."