How to set up Smart Downloads on Netflix, YouTube, and Podcasts

Photo of a phone with auto download settings enabled

Netflix is ​​an app with an automatic download option.
photo: David Nield/Gizmodo

It’s a good idea to store all your music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies and TV shows in the cloud – you can access them from any device and it will free up space on your gadgets. The only problem is when you can’t connect to the cloud: your internet is down, you can’t get a strong cell signal, or you’re traveling.

Pretty much every streaming app out there has a safety net in the form of an offline caching feature that allows you to temporarily store certain content on your phone in case you get cut off from the internet. What you might not have realized is that a handful of apps can now do this automatically and save things locally that you’ll likely like.

While it’s not quite the same as choosing movies and playlists yourself, enabling these automatic offline features can be really helpful if you get caught at short notice – maybe your router’s down, or you have to unexpectedly go on a trip, or whatever it is. Here’s how to set up these features in advance.

We’ve added three apps that contain this type of feature. Other providers like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus have yet to embrace the “smart” download option – they all offer manually triggered downloads, but we’re hoping they’ll release smarter downloads in the years to come. to distant future to make offline listening and viewing even easier.

Enable Smart Downloads on Netflix

Credit to Netflix for not only allowing you to manually cache movies and shows, but just a tap Download button on each listing page, but also has a smart download feature that saves movies and TV series in the background so they can be started from your phone at any time.

Tap the Downloads button at the bottom of the mobile UI app and then select Clever Downloads. There are two toggle switches that you can rotaten on: Activate Download the next episode and the app will do just that and cache the next episode for shows you’re watching. Enable Downloads for youand Netflix downloads a selection of content it thinks you’ll enjoy based on its recommendation algorithm.

Screenshot of the Netflix Smart Download section

screenshot: Netflix

Settings underneath let you decide how much of your phone’s storage is freed up for smart downloads in Netflix, and you can even split this by profile. Below you can see how much storage space is left on your phone and how much Netflix is ​​taking up.

All your downloads, whether triggered manually or intelligently, can be found on the Downloads tab in the app. If Netflix has saved something you’re not interested in, you can remove it either by tapping the pencil icon (top right) and choosing what to delete, or by tapping the downloaded icons to the right of each item.

how to let Download YouTube automatically Recommended videos

To be able to download YouTube videos to your phone, You must be a paid member of the YouTube Premium Club, which will cost you $12 per month. Once you have handed over your cash, you will shey Download Buttons next to videos in the app.

If you don’t have the time or determination to download videos manually, YouTube will do it for you. Tap your profile picture (top right), then select settingsthen Backgrounds and downloadsand then activate Smart downloads. You can also choose download quality to set a default video quality level (which of course affects the storage space required for your clips).

Screenshot of the Youtube download area

screenshot: youtube

All YouTube says about the videos it chooses to download is that they are “recommended” videos – meaning they’re the same ones you’ll see while browsing the app. The list is updated every seven days.

To find your downloaded videos in the YouTube app, tap library and then Downloads. You can view (and delete if you like) videos from here, but there’s no option to set how much storage is allocated to the feature. When we tested it, 10 videos were saved locally.

Smart downloads on YouTube Music

Not to be outdone by YouTube, YouTube Music can also queue some offline content for you without having to choose what you want. YouTube Music has a free tier, but you must have the paid plan ($10 per month) to download music to your phone to listen to it offline.

You’ll find little download buttons (the arrows pointing down) in various places in the YouTube Music interface on mobile, and you can tap any of them to save playlists, albums, and songs to your device. Beat library and then Downloads to see all that saved music in one place.

Screenshot of the Youtube Music download area

screenshot: youtube music

You might not want to go through the hassle of manually selecting music, in which case the app will do it for you. Of the Downloads screen, tap the gear icon (top right) and toggle that on Smart downloads (Android) or Download an offline mixtape (iOS) toggle switch. With the sliders below You can choose how many songs and how much memory is used for the feature.

This different approach is a little strange: the offline mixtape appears as a playlist on Android and iOS, but its maximum song limit (up to 100 tracks) can only be set on iOS. On Android, you can save up to 500 songs (including the offline mixtape) via the smart download feature. Not all of these albums and tracks will be included in the offline mixtape, but they can all be found on the Downloads screen below library.

podcast

Most podcast players worthy of the name automatically download new episodes of podcasts you subscribe to when you want them to. For example, in the Pocket Casts app, you can tap the settings gear icon on a podcast page. then turn it on Automatic download Toggle switch to download new episodes as they come out.

Meanwhile, if you’re on the popular Overcast podcast player for iOS, you can find the appropriate option by going to a podcast listing page and then tapping settings, Downloadingand Download automatically. It saves you from autosaving and saving new episodes, and you can even send them to custom playlists in Overcast.

Screenshot of PocketCasts

screenshot: pocket casts

Perhaps you’re using the default Apple Podcasts app that comes with your iPhone. In this case, you can find the option you want by opening a podcast, tapping the three dots in the top-right corner, and then selecting settings and Download automatically: You can select all new episodes, no episodes, or anywhere in between based on a specific number of episodes or when they were released.

Whatever podcast player you prefer, you should be able to find a similar option somewhere, which means you will never be something to listen to when you don’t have an internet connection. It’s a good idea to set multiple podcasts to download automatically, just for the sake of variety.

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