Netflix has offered the ability to download shows for a couple of years now. However, the onus was on the user to manually add episodes into the offline mode. Thankfully, a new software update takes care of the downloading for you. Here's how it works.
For those who aren't aware of the feature, Netflix Downloads allows you to watch Netflix content when you don't have an available internet connection (examples include flying on a plane, internet black spots, or any time you'd prefer not to use mobile data.) \ Compatible shows all contain a 'download' button - simply click on it and the title is added to the 'My Downloads' section in the app for later viewing.
On the face of it, offline playback on Netflix doesn't seem revolutionary. Unlike music, which we regularly consume on the go, we mostly watch TV at home, on a couch. Usually with a cable connection or — at worst — decent Wi-Fi.
But think of the possibilities.
The new Smart Download feature attempts to make download management much easier. When you finish watching a downloaded episode, the tool will automatically download the next episode in the series. It will also delete the episode you just watched for you to free up storage space.
Crucially, the Smart Downloads feature only turns on when you're connected to Wi-Fi. It's also smart enough to download later episodes if you've already got a few queued up. (For example, if you have episodes 1 and 2 in your downloads list, it will add episode 3 the moment you finish watching episode 1.) This means you don't need to wait for the next episode to download - it all happens in the background.
Unfortunately, there's currently no option to keep a downloaded episode that you've already watched: instead, you'll need to disable Smart Downloads and go back to manually clicking on the download button. The tool also isn't available on the iOS version of the app just yet: at this stage, it's Android phones and tablets only.
To start using Netflix Smart Downloads, simply update your Android Netflix app to the latest version: it should then become enabled. If it doesn't seem to be working, tap on the Menu icon, scroll down to App Settings and toggle Smart Downloads on (which you can find under the Downloads heading.)