How Netflix’s New Downloads Feature Gives You More To Watch

Not perfect, but worth it for those with limited internet

Key Takeaways

  • Android users now can activate Netflix’s Downloads For You feature in the Netflix app. iOS testing will start soon.
  • The feature will automatically download movies and shows based on your recommendations.
  • While not every recommendation will be a hit, experts believe this feature could help more Netflix viewers with limited internet find new shows more often.
Netflix displayed on a TV sitting on a white TV stand against a white wall and wood floors.
Jes Kreuter / Unsplash

Experts say Netflix’s new Downloads For You feature is a dream come true for users with limited connectivity.

Netflix recently announced the arrival of Downloads For You on Android devices. The new feature will allow the app to download various shows and movies based on the content that you’ve liked in the past.

Despite any duds that might appear in your recommendations, experts believe the feature is a good push towards making Netflix easier to use, especially for those who have limited access to the internet.

"Netflix streamers always like to have something to watch at their disposal," Patrick Smith, editor-in-chief at Fire Stick Tricks, told Lifewire via email. "This new feature fulfills that. It downloads new shows based on your watch history from your recommended list."

For Your Eyes Only

There was a time when Netflix only could be used when you were connected to the internet. Now, thanks to its offline mode, and the release of Smart Downloads in 2018, Netflix has made it easier to keep up with your streaming content even when you don’t have access to a stable internet connection.

Netflix screenshots of the Downloads for You feature on a smartphone.

These features continue to expand with the introduction of Downloads For You.

With Downloads For You, you’ll have even more movie and TV show options to check out when you aren’t connected. Like anything suggested by algorithms, you shouldn’t expect these options to always pan out.

"Even if Netflix can sense that we will like to watch a particular movie they recommend, we still have our own preferences, which can change at times," Jason Hughes, co-founder and CEO of Vegan Liftz, told us via email.

As a Netflix user, Hughes shared similar concerns that many might have about how much memory the feature could take up on his smartphone, as well as how it might affect his monthly cellular data bill.

Fortunately, Netflix already has shared that users will have full control over how much space the app takes up for downloads, though it has yet to reveal information about whether downloads will happen over cellular data connections.

"Even if Netflix can sense that we will like to watch a particular movie they recommend, we still have our own preferences, which can change at times,"

The feature is disabled by default. Once activated, though, Downloads For You will allow you to set your storage allocation at 1GB, 3GB, or 5GB. Netflix says that 3GB is equivalent to around 12 hours worth of movies and television shows.

If you have 3GB of space on your phone or SD Card—if your phone supports storage expansion via an SD card—then it should give you more than enough content to make it through an evening or two without internet access. 

It’s unclear at the moment if Netflix will support allocating more than 5GB of storage to downloads.

Connected Even When You Aren’t

Netflix isn’t the only streaming service to offer offline viewing. Since the launch of offline viewing in the Netflix app in 2016, other services like Hulu have followed suit, some even requiring specific plans to access the feature. 

Netflix is the first to offer a system like Downloads For You. It’s features like these that have continued to help make Netflix one of the premiere destinations for streaming entertainment media.

Some users are unsure what to think of the new feature, with one person tweeting “Netflix's Downloads For You is a bag of mixed feelings.” 

Others are more excited, like Amin Husni, who tweeted, “Time to use up all of that 130GB spare that I have in my phone.”

Despite what you might think of the feature, experts say the users most likely to notice a boon from the addition are those who don’t have constant online connections. Users who don’t have internet access at home, or who have to take long rides to and from work or school everyday will find the additional ways to download new content helpful.

"Users who often find themselves in situations where they have the time to watch an episode or two, but do not have any downloaded content or an internet connection should consider this feature," Smith wrote.

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