Streaming services on our smartphones have become new "norm" when it comes to media consumption in the 21st century. From movies to music to cable TV, the media world is your burrito for under $10 a month per service. There isn’t much to dislike about streaming services. Well, except for the fact that sometimes you’re confined to only being able to use it when you have an Internet connection, which could prove to be troublesome to the many people who either don’t have unlimited data plans or aren’t always around Wi-Fi.
But for one service, that won’t necessarily be an issue anymore. At least, not all the time. Today, Netflix announced that subscribers would be able to download certain shows and movies for offline viewing on smartphones and tablets.
The update has already been released, so if you already have Netflix downloaded on your smartphone or tablet but aren’t set to automatically receive updates, you should have an updated queued in your designated app store.
By the looks of it, it’s a very limited selection – but we’re not complaining. I can’t necessarily find a rhyme or reason as to which shows are able to be downloaded. After poking around, I came to the conclusion that Netflix originals were off-limits as BoJack Horseman, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Black Mirror, and several others were off limits. Additionally, popular TV shows like Bob’s Burgers, Trailer Park Boys, Gilmore Girls, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Phineas and Ferb, Once Upon a Time, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia weren’t available either.
What I did find available wasn’t too shabby of a deal for viewing on-the-go – especially for parents with kiddos. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m guilty of keeping the kids quiet on long car rides with a tablet and a favorite TV show or movie, so this feature is like an early Christmas for us. Home, Minions, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Road to El Dorado, and The Prince of Egypt, and my personal favorite, The Gruffalo, are just a few titles that you can download for offline viewing. Some children’s TV shows like Sid the Science Kid, Barney the Dinosaur, Curious George movies, and LEGO movies are part of the line-up as well.
TV and movies more tailored towards adults proved difficult to find, at least going by suggestions in my feed. Benchwarmers, White Chicks, Curse of Chucky, and most comedy specials appear on the list, as well as a new favorite of mine for fall and winter, Fireplace 4K: Crackling Birchwood.
It’s a good start, though. One true drawback to Netflix’s new feature is that it doesn’t appear that phones with microSD cards have any advantage here, which is what I was really excited about. When you download a show or movie, there are no additional options regarding where to place the media. It automatically downloads to internal storage.
There are a couple of good aspects of the service (aside from the obvious aspect that it even happened) worth mentioning. Users have some control over video quality. The default is set to standard, but users can change it to high quality (although it does not explicitly state whether "high quality" means 1080p or 720p). Users can also download using cellular data, which is something that Amazon Video, another media streaming service that allows users to download some shows and movies for offline viewing, doesn’t allow.
Although the service is off to a slow start, Netflix has acknowledged that other shows will eventually be available to, such as Orange is the New Black, Narcos, and The Crown.
Overall, it seems like a sweet deal, especially for people who are already subscribed to Netflix as it doesn’t require an additional charge (yet – unless you consider the $2 increase that occurred earlier this year to be in anticipation of this, which it very well might have been). I know I’m happy to have it.