The ability to download videos in their entirety to a mobile device has been a nice (but lesser-known) feature of Netflix and similar services for a few years now, but the experience has not been without its frustrations. A new update to the Netflix mobile app aims to make the feature better.
Starting today, users of Android phones or tablets running version 7.64 or later will be able to view a video download in the Netflix mobile app, even if that video has not yet been downloaded to a device. The company’s editorial announcing the new feature says it’s intended for times when “unreliable Wi-Fi or a maxed-out data plan” prevents a video from downloading completely.
So if you tried to download a movie on airport Wi-Fi before your coast-to-coast flight, but only got to 80 percent before boarding, at least you can now watch part of the movie while you wait for a chance to finish downloading. Once you have a reliable connection again, the download can pick up where it left off, even if you started watching the video in the meantime.
You can find the partially downloaded videos in the same download tab as all the fully downloaded files.
The feature is currently only available on Android devices, but Netflix VP of Product Innovation Keela Robison writes that the company “will begin testing on iOS in the coming months.” The download feature was never available on the desktop website, and it remains the case here.
This isn’t the first time Android has been getting first dibs on a Netflix mobile app feature. Netflix introduced “Smart Downloads” a few years after releasing the basic download feature. That addition deleted a TV episode after you watched it and automatically downloaded the next one. It came to iOS much later. And then there’s “Downloads For You,” a feature that automatically downloads content that Netflix recommends based on your past viewing experiences.
Downloads For You is still only available on Android, but Netflix says it will soon begin testing the feature on iOS as well.
List image by Ron Amadeo