Netflix finally adds offline viewing to smartphone and tablet apps

01 December 2016

Netflix subscribers are now able to download movies and TV shows to their smartphones and tablets for offline viewing. This means you can pull down select titles while on a wireless network, then watch them without using data on the go, or when you've got no internet access. The feature is available in Netflix's iOS and Android apps, and was added in a software updated released today. 

Not every title is available for download (not even every Netflix original is, Marvel shows are missing, for example), but there's a new handy subcategory in the Netflix app that lets you know which titles support offline viewing.

The app's settings pane lets you pick between two qualities, "standard" and "higher". Netflix doesn't define these in terms of resolution, but standard is said to take up less space and be lower quality, while higher is a bigger, higher-quality video. File-sizes seemingly depend on the show. I found that a 25 minute episode of BoJack Horseman was 100MB when downloaded at lower and 150MB on higher, but a 49 minute episode of 3% was 200MB at lower and 500MB at higher. At present, all downloads have to be saved to your phone's internal storage. Android users aren't able to save video to a microSD card. 

There doesn't appear to be a limit as to how video you can have saved for offline viewing; I'm downloading the entire first season of BoJack Horseman onto my phone as we speak. Of course, you won't be able to watch any of this content if you don't maintain an active Netflix subscription.

While downloading shows ahead of a commute to work or uni is an obvious use case for offline viewing, it also seems like a great options for flights.


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