Netflix has just released a new feature called Smart Downloads that will automatically delete a downloaded episode from your device once you've watched it, and download the next one for you.
Netflix Downloads allow subscribers of the streaming service to download select content, including movies and TV series episodes, to their devices when they are on a Wi-Fi connection (or cellular, if you have the data to spare) so that they can watch offline. This comes in handy for plane rides, trains, or any other spot where you might not have access to a Wi-Fi connection, or have a bad connection, such as at a cottage or in the basement of a building.
Each episode, however, takes up room on your device. Smart Downloads removes the episode once you're done, rather than waiting for it to automatically expire for offline viewing, or manually deleting it. And, once you're on a Wi-Fi network again, the next episode will automatically download so it's ready for you. This is great for daily public transit commuters, who can watch an episode on the train to work, for example, get to the office, and have the next one downloaded and ready to go by the time they're ready to leave for the day.
There could be a downside, however. For example, what if you download animated movies or TV series episodes for your child that they would like to watch over and over again? That said, members do have the ability to turn Smart Downloads off, but then it would be off for all downloads, not just select ones. To do so, tap the Downloads icon, select Smart Downloads from the My Downloads section, and toggle it to "off." In your app settings, tap the Menu icon, scroll down and select App Settings, and under Downloads, toggle Smart Downloads to "off."
It's a great option, but as noted in my comparison and analysis of the three main streaming services in Canada, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and CraveTV, I love the ability to queue up an entire season's worth of episodes for download with a single click through Prime Video. Smart Downloads for Netflix means you no longer have to click each and every episode one by one. But it also means you have to wait until you're on Wi-Fi again to download the next episode if you don't. However, for those who have devices with limited free storage space, downloading an entire season might not be feasible anyway, and Smart Downloads makes perfect sense.
Netflix Smart Downloads is initially available on Android phones and tablets. There's no word on when it will be available for iPhone.