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Netflix widens 'smart downloads' to iPhones

''Smart downloads" automatically swap out an offline episode you've already watched for the next one you need.

Two characters from Sex Education look at each other seated at a table

Netflix makes its originals shows, like Sex Education, available for download. 

Jon Hall/Netflix

Netflix is widening its "smart downloads" feature to Apple mobile devices, the company said Thursday, giving more mobile users the option to let Netflix automate your offline cache so you don't need to keep on top of the episodes downloaded to your device. 

The streaming-video giant introduced "smart downloads" on Android devices in July as a way to automatically remove downloaded shows you've already watched and refresh them with the next episodes you haven't seen once your phone reconnects to Wi-Fi. 

Netflix defied downloads for years, holding out for the day that connectivity would advance so much that downloading to watch offline wouldn't be necessary anymore. But it changed course more than two years ago, as competitors like Amazon Prime Video began offering downloads, and as Netflix itself expanded internationally to markets where mobile connectivity was more scarce and expensive. In 2016, it began letting subscribers download much of its catalog.  

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