Netflix introduces 'smart downloads' on Android

There's good news for Netflix subscribers who like to download TV shows to a mobile device to watch offline.

The streaming service just introduced a new feature called Smart Downloads, which will automatically delete the last downloaded episode you finished watching, then fetch the next one in the series. That way, you won't have to worry about freeing up space on your mobile device, or manually downloading the next episode.

Say you download three episodes of a series, for instance. After you finish watching the first one, Netflix will automatically delete it and download episode four, so it's ready when you are. Smart Downloads only works over WiFi, so it won't impact your data plan.

At this point, the feature is only available on Android phones and tablets running the latest version of the Netflix app.

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"We know how annoying it can be to go through all your apps and delete files you no longer need; we also understand that when it comes to Netflix, the faster you can get to the next episode you want to watch, the better," Netflix Director of Product Innovation Cameron Johnson wrote in a Tuesday blog post.

If you'd rather keep those old episodes on your device, so you can re-watch them later, you'll have to disable Smart Downloads. To do that, tap the Menu icon (three vertical lines), scroll down and select App Settings, look for the Downloads heading, then use the toggle to turn Smart Downloads off. You can also disable it from your Downloads section: just tap the Downloads icon (an arrow pointing down), select Smart Downloads from the top of the My Downloads section, and use the toggle to turn Smart Downloads off.

Netflix first introduced the ability to download content for offline viewing in 2016.

"Members love downloading and enjoying Netflix on the go," Johnson wrote. "Whether they are commuting, traveling or just in a place with pricey or spotty internet access, the download feature makes it possible for our members to take their stories with them wherever they go."

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