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article imageYou can finally download Netflix shows for offline viewing

By James Walker     Nov 30, 2016 in Technology
Netflix now allows you to download your favourite shows for offline viewing when the Internet isn't available. The feature has long been requested by users who want to watch Netflix while on the go. A large portion of Netflix's library is available.
The company announced the launch of offline playback in a tweet today. It's available in the latest version of the Netflix app on Android and iOS. When you're looking at a show that's available offline, a new download icon will appear to let you save it to your device. The first time it's displayed, a small message will introduce you to offline playback.
Two quality options are available, Standard and Higher. Selecting Higher will download the best possible quality video, at the expense of storage space and download time. Standard uses a slightly lower resolution that has a smaller file size. It's ideal if you've got limited storage available or want to save a lot of content.
Netflix said it's enabling offline playback for "your favorite stories." At launch, a range of Netflix's own shows, including Stranger Things, The Crown and Orange is the New Black is available. There's also a selection of other content from a range of genres. The Verge reports that Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Boyhood and Hot Fuzz are available, alongside movies like Paddington and Minions.
"Airplane mode. Road trip mode. Stuck-in-the-subway-for-20-minutes mode. Your favorite stories are now available for download any time," said Netflix.
The addition of offline playback marks a change in Netflix's approach to streaming options on its service. It had previously said it was unlikely to offer downloads, partly due to licensing reasons on some content. Enabling playback without an internet connection makes the company's library more accessible though allows people to watch Netflix wherever they are. The company has decided that expanding its reach should be favoured over promoting streaming.
The launch will have a significant impact in regions which have slow or unreliable internet connections. When bandwidth is limited or drop-outs common, streaming video can be arduous and very low quality. Offline playback avoids these issues, allowing you to download content ahead of time and then watch it in high resolution without any hitches.
Now it's arrived, Netflix has made the feature as widely available on mobile as possible. Downloads are offered on all of its subscription plans, even to low-paying customers. It could have reserved the feature for the premium tiers, promoting it as a perk for subscribers willing to spend more.
Offline playback is available in Netflix's mobile app on Android and iOS from today. There's currently no word on when or if the feature will come to desktop devices. Smartphones are more likely to experience unreliable networks than PCs and laptops but downloads could still be useful in regions with slow connections.
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