Netflix Smart Downloads manages TV shows for you

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Netflix iPhone
Want to watch the next episode of your favorite show on the subway? Netflix Smart Downloads makes it easy by automatically replacing each watched episode with the next one.
Photo: Netflix

A new feature in the Netflix app will automatically download episodes of your favorite shows. This means they’re waiting on your phone or tablet when you’re ready.

Netflix already allows users to download episodes to watch later. The improvement announced today just makes it easier.

The goal is to take the hassle out of keeping shows on your mobile device. “When you finish watching a downloaded episode, Smart Downloads will delete it, then automatically download the next episode in the series,” explains Netflix.

The automatic downloads only happen over Wi-Fi, so they won’t use up precious cellular data. And because the last episode is delayed before downloading the next, the app won’t fill up your phone.

To be clear, if an episode is streamed online, Netflix won’t download the next one. Only watched downloads will be replaced with fresh ones.

Netflix Smart Downloads not too smart

At present, Smart Downloads only works with TV episodes. If you download and watch a movie, it’s sequel won’t be on your tablet the next time you open the Netflix app.

A downside to Netflix Smart Downloads is it’s not available for iOS yet, just Android devices. Still, its developer promises this feature will be released for iPhone and iPad later this year.

The Netflix app is available on the Apple App Store, or Google Play. The software is free, but Netflix is a subscription service. A basic plan is $7.99 a month, with SD video on one screen. A standard plan allowing two screens at once is $10.99 per month, and a premium plan is $13.99 per month. That allows four screen and Ultra HD video. A new Netflix Ultra plan could soon debut in the U.S. that increases some of these price, though.