The Netflix app for Android has a great new feature that is rolling out today: Smart Downloads. The feature, which is enabled by default, will delete an episode that you have downloaded and completed watching and will replace it with the next episode in the series that you have not watched. It means that you will automatically get the next episode in the series without having to manually go download it yourself.
Here is the scenario: Let’s say you watching Season 1 of The Crown and have downloaded the first four episodes in the series. When you complete episode one, it is deleted and episode five of the series is downloaded automatically to your phone. It means that you will always have four episodes downloaded and ready to watch.
Right now the feature is only available on Android but it is possible that at some point this will be coming to iOS users. Further, the feature only works when you are connected to WiFi – which makes sense given you may be downloading up to 1 GB of content for an episode.
The setting is found in the App Settings of the Netflix app. As mentioned, it’s on by default but you can turn it off if you choose to do so.
The one question that isn’t clear is if Smart Downloads does a “catch up” if you are offline. I often watch content while on a plane but rarely am I online (because most airplane WiFi systems blow). Let’s say I watch two episodes of a show when I’m on a plane. When I land and get back on WiFi, does it download two episodes for me at that point? It isn’t clear but if it does, that would be super handy – and yes, I’ll be testing.