A year and a half after letting users download movies and shows to their mobile devices for offline viewing, Netflix has started rolling out a ‘Smart Downloads’ feature that automatically downloads new episodes of a TV series and deletes older ones. The feature is currently only available on Android, with iOS users expected to get it by the end of the year.
Users wanting to keep the old episodes on their devices will need to turn off Smart Downloads by going into the Settings menu of their Netflix app, and turn off the feature, which is turned on by default when it rolls out to your device. It will only be activated on Wi-Fi, and is available for supported shows on Android phones and tablets running the latest version of the Netflix app.
According to CNet, Cameron Johnson, director of product innovation at Netflix, last week hinted that the company may introduce a new feature to automate the process of deleting old episodes and downloading new ones. “Downloading today is a very manual process, and most of the time people will only download a couple episodes of a show at a time … Whenever possible, we want Netflix to do the work for you”, he is quoted to have said at the briefing last week.
It’s worth noting here that the Smart Downloads feature is currently limited only to TV shows with multiple episodes, and does not extend to movies, standup specials or other kinds of programming. That’s because, according to Johnson, “Even though we have a great personalization system, we don’t know what’s the next movie you’re going to want to watch. We’re taking the point of view to not be presumptuous and let people choose for themselves”.