Netflix brings Smart Downloads to iPhone and iPad after teasing feature last summer

Netflix has supported downloading movies and TV shows for offline viewing on iOS for a while now, but the process has been a bit manual. Android gained automatic downloads last summer, and now the iPhone and iPad are finally catching up and gaining the handy feature.

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Netflix announced the launch of its Smart Downloads feature on iOS today on the company’s blog:

Today, we are excited to introduce Smart Downloads. Now, when you finish watching a downloaded episode, Smart Downloads will delete it, and then automatically download the next episode. You watch, we do the work.

Just like on Android and Windows 10, Netflix subscribers can manually turn the Smart Downloads feature on and off as needed. Smart Downloads also only works on Wi-Fi so there’s no risk of using cellular data accidentally if that’s a concern.

Netflix says device storage is also not a factor because the last watched episode in a series is always removed before then next unwatched episode in the series is downloaded. The feature isn’t made for people who want to rewatch a series anytime without streaming or re-downloading episodes since it automatically deletes viewed episodes before downloading new shows.

Smart Downloads tries to be intelligent about which episodes to delete however. For example, if you have the first three episodes of a series downloaded, the feature will download episode four after you view episode three and automatically delete episode one while keeping the second and third episodes.

Netflix shares these instructions for controlling the feature here:

Turn Smart Downloads on or off from your Downloads section

  1. Tap the Downloads icon .
  2. From the top of the My Downloads section, select Smart Downloads.
  3. Use the toggle to turn Smart Downloads on or off.

Turn Smart Downloads on or off from App Settings

  1. Tap the Menu icon Mobile Menu Icon.
  2. Scroll down and select App Settings.
  3. Under the Downloads heading, use the toggle to turn Smart Downloads on or off.

Netflix originally promised to bring the feature to iOS by the end of last year after launching it first on Android, but it clearly took a few months longer than expected to roll out. Be sure to grab the latest version of Netflix for iOS from the App Store before using the new feature.

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Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.