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Netflix offline downloads are about to get a super-useful upgrade

Netflix has enabled select series and films to be downloaded for offline viewing since 2016, with one minor caveat – you have to download the entire file before you can start watching.

That looks like it’s going to change, judging by a recent app teardown carried out by XDA Developers. The code  indicates that if you only have enough time to download half a film, for example, you’ll be able to watch up to that point.

The code, which was spied in the latest version of the Android application (v7.58.0) features phrases like:

  • “You’ve reached the end of what’s been downloaded so far. Please connect to the internet to continue watching.”
  • “You need to download a bit more to start watching.”
  • “You’ve reached the end of what you’ve downloaded so far. Would you like to download over cellular to continue watching?”

It would appear these phrases would be the notifications issued to users at the relevant times, although that hasn’t been confirmed by Netflix.

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This could be handy if you’re rushing out of the house before the download finishes, or you just need enough to get you through the commute home, when you reconnect to your home Wi-Fi. It could also be used as an aid for those on slow connections, effectively acting as an anti-buffering tool. It’s also likely to ensure users aren’t tempted to jump over to their cellular connection to watch content when some of it is available offline.

This version of the app is available on the Play Store, but it appears the feature is dormant for now. It could be saved for a future update and we’d expect some fanfare from Netflix when it goes live.

Given how much of the library is made up by Netflix’s original content these days, the availability of shows to download has skyrocketed since the feature initially launched. So, this should be really helpful.

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