It is finally here—the ability to download and save movies and TV shows for viewing offline. This is what Netflix users had been waiting for. The latest version of the Netflix app for Android and iOS now adds the ability to download and save episodes of TV shows and also full length movies, on the phone or tablet you may be using, and watch them later even if you don’t have a 3G or Wi-Fi connection.
To get this new feature, you’ll need to head to the application store on your device and update the Netflix app. The latest version is available on the Google Play Store for devices running Android 4.4.2 or newer variants, and also on Apple iPhone and Apple iPad running iOS 8.0 or newer operating system. For this, Netflix is using the new AVCHi-Mobile and VP9-Mobile encodes, for video compression, improved encoders and better optimization.
So how does this work?
The first time you open the app after the update, a pop-up will tell you about the new download feature and also provide a helpful link that takes you to all the content that is currently available for download and offline viewing. There is also a new ‘Available for Download’ category in the app for quicker access to content that you may want to save for viewing later.
Even if you are browsing the library as you normally would, this download option will show up on all the content that is available for offline viewing. For movies, it will show up with the movie title. For TV shows, you’ll have the option of downloading individual episodes. You simply need to tap on the option, and let the download happen in the background.
Unlike a lot of other apps, the only limitation in terms of the amount of storage Netflix will be able to use is the amount of storage that is available on your phone. For example, if your phone has 128GB storage space, then it will be great for those who love binge watching. There is also no limit as to how many times you may want to watch the same piece of offline content.
To allow users to better access and manage the downloads, there is a My Downloads section that has been added to the main menu. Here, everything that you have saved for offline viewing will be listed, and anything that is currently being downloaded will show up as something that is in progress. If you are done watching a movie or even an episode of a TV show, you can simply delete it from here.
In the settings, Netflix is offering controls for video quality (standard or high quality) as well as the ability to restrict downloads to only Wi-Fi. Helpfully, the storage space available on your phone or tablet is also shown here.
This new feature will be great news for those who want to catch up on their favourite TV shows or movies while travelling, and don’t have the luxury of expensive 3G/4G data plans that allow heavy usage. For Netflix, this could be perfect timing, at least in India, with the potential launch of the Amazon video streaming service just a few weeks away.