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Netflix launches new Smart Downloads feature globally

NETFLIX on Monday night (Singapore time) launched Smart Downloads, a new feature designed to offer more convenience to its members who download shows from the platform to watch later without an Internet connection.

When activated, Smart Downloads works intelligently in the background. After a member watches a downloaded episode of a show on his phone, Smart Downloads will delete that episode and automatically download the next episode in the series when the member’s phone reconnects to wifi.

Cameron Johnson, Netflix’s director of product innovation who is focused on mobile, said: “We know how annoying it can be to go through all your apps and delete files you no longer need; we also understand that when it comes to Netflix, the faster you can get to the next episode you want to watch, the better.”

At launch, Smart Downloads will be available in all of its over 190 countries, including Singapore - but only on Android devices. It will soon roll out on more devices, including those operating on iOS, The Business Times has learnt.

Mr Johnson told reporters in a Google Hangouts briefing: “We generally want Netflix to do the work for our members. We want to be very respectful of people’s data plans, so Smart Downloads only works on wifi; it will never download anything on cellular connection.”

He added that Netflix is “respectful of people’s space on their phones”, so Smart Downloads will download the next episode in sequence only after deleting the last watched episode.

Mr Johnson said: “While we think most people will choose to enable (Smart Downloads), they always have the option to move to manual.”

Smart Downloads is an extension of Downloads, a feature Netflix launched in 2016 to allows its members to download certain films or TV series onto their mobile phones to watch them later without an Internet connection.