Netflix for Android now lets you watch partially downloaded content

Netflix on Android
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Netflix has just launched a new feature on Android: the ability to view content before it’s finished downloading. Content can now be watched while continuing to download in the background or until you reach the point where the download stopped. 

This upgrade could be seriously handy in a pinch, say if you don’t manage to finish downloading a movie before you need to hop on a train or airplane. Previously, you'd have to download the whole thing to then view it, but with the latest version of the Netflix app (version 7.64) on an Android device that’s no longer the case.  

For now, this feature will be exclusively available to users on Android. This means if you’re running Netflix on iOS, you’ll still need to fully download content before you can start viewing. However, the streaming giant has confirmed that the feature will come to the likes of the iPhone 12 and iPad eventually. “Will be testing on iOS in the coming months," said Netflix. 

Curiously this isn’t the first time that Netflix has chosen to roll out an upgrade on Android first. The controversial Downloads For You feature, which auto-downloads recommended titles based on your watch history, was added to Netflix on Android in February. It’s still unavailable on iOS, though Netflix has stated that it will be tested on the platform “soon.” 

Some users have expressed a disliking for the Downloads For You feature as it fills up your device’s storage with content you may not actually want to watch. Though it's easy enough to disable. However, the ability to watch partially downloaded content is unlikely to cause such controversy and is surely a feature that iOS users will hope to see sooner rather than later. 

So far, 2021 hasn’t been the easiest year for Netflix. While Netflix remains a juggernaut in the industry it’s lost significant market share to competitors like Disney Plus and HBO Max. It’s also recently come under fire for its continual habit of canceling original series before they’ve had a chance to find an audience. 

Nevertheless, Netflix still remains one of the best streaming services currently available. Plus, the launch of The Witcher season 2 and the return of Stranger Things later this year should get the streamer plenty of positive attention in the second half of the year. 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.