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.

Netflix just got more expensive as new Ultra plan goes live

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Netflix on a MacBook
You now have to pay more for the best Netflix package.
Photo: Stephen Smith/Cult of Mac

The Netflix Ultra plan we feared was coming is now live in several countries.

Subscribers will have to pay more to enjoy HDR content on compatible TVs, and to stream movies and TV shows on four devices simultaneously. The Premium plan that previously offered these things has been watered-down, as has the Standard plan.

Netflix could be about to get a lot more expensive for some users

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Netflix iPhone
You’ll have to pay extra to keep four streams.
Photo: Netflix

You might have to pay a lot more for your Netflix subscription if your account is regularly used on more than two devices.

A new leak reveals Netflix could be planning to limit its Premium tier to allow just two devices to stream content simultaneously. Users would have to pay around $20 a more for a new Ultra plan to continue streaming on up to four.

J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles team up Apple musical dramedy

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JJ Abrams
Jony Ive's buddy J.J. Abrams is going to make a TV show for Apple.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia CC

Apple has tapped J.J. Abrams to executive produce its latest straight-to-series order for the half-hour dramedy show called Little Voices.

Abrams’ and Apple have reportedly discussed working together on a number of his projects in the past. This is the first Apple has been able to ink a deal with J.J., but considering his close ties to Jony Ive, we’re surprised it took this long.

Instagram wants to battle Apple and Netflix with original content

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Cult of Mac Instagram profile
Instagram could soon offer original shows of its own.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

After beating out every other photo-sharing platform and stealing Snapchat’s lunch money, Instagram is jumping into video.

A new report claims the service is adding support for uploading videos up to an hour in length. It is also in talks with content creators and publishers about the possibility of delivering original long-form videos that could compete with shows from the likes of Apple and Netflix.

The Obamas head to Netflix after flirting with Apple

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Maybe the coolest, most tech savvy president ever.
Maybe the coolest, most tech savvy president ever.
Photo: The White House

Former President Barak Obama and his wife Michelle Obama are coming to Netflix.

The duo inked a deal to produce content for the streaming service this week after reportedly being courted by Apple and Amazon earlier this year. Netflix announced the multi-year agreement today which could lead to films, scripted series, unscripted series documentaries and more.

Netflix on iOS now lets you enjoy previews

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Netflix iPhone
Netflix previews will help you hunt down the perfect show.
Photo: Netflix

Netflix has added a new feature to its iOS app, allowing users to watch a 30-second video trailer of content they are interested in.

The company began testing the feature in early March, but is now rolling it out to all users. The video previews are viewable in portrait mode, which ensures that they do not interrupt your browsing experience by having to constantly change the orientation of your device.

Netflix calls itself the ‘anti-Apple’ at its own peril

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Netflix iPhone
You’ll have to pay extra to keep four streams.
Photo: Netflix

As the current king of the streaming video world, Netflix knows it’s got a target on its back — and it’s certainly sweating because Apple wants to steal its crown. So Netflix is using a tactic once employed by Apple, positioning itself as a scrappy, nimble upstart able to easily outflank its deep-pocketed adversaries.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even called his company “the anti-Apple” this weekend, painting Cupertino as a secretive company limited in its operational speed by obsessive top-down control.

That’s a misreading of the situation, and a serious strategic mistake. In fact, if Netflix misplays its cards, it could find itself Sherlocked.