(Pocket-lint) - After years of subscriber requests and insistence that it would never happen, Netflix has finally added offline viewing to its iOS and Android apps.
That means users of iPhones, iPads and Android phones and tablets can now download and store Netflix movies and TV programmes to watch when they don't have an internet connection - such as on a plane or the Tube.
Its rival Amazon has been offering a similar service for a while, but the downloadable content is limited. Netflix seemingly has much more content to enjoy offline and promises that it will soon add more.
So here's our guide to how to download and watch Netflix shows and films on your devices.
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How to use Netflix offline viewing
1. Download the update
If you haven't got it automatically, you should look for the Netflix update waiting for you on your respective App Store.
- You need Netflix version 9.0.1 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch
- You need Netflix version 4.12.0 for Android
2. Go to Available to Download menu
Both of these offer offline viewing and when you start them up will open with a dedicated "Download & Go" splashscreen. This will take you directly to a menu of all the content currently available to download, as not everything on Netflix is available to view offline for licensing issues.
There's still plenty though and you can scroll through all of the downloadable content on the following screen.
If you don't go to that screen after the splashscreen or want to go there later, you will find the "Available to Download" section listed in the side menu of the app. Just tap the three lines that appear in the top-left hand corner of the main screen. You can also access your downloads and settings in this side bar, which will be important to remember.
3. Click on the show or movie you want to download
Once you are on the Available to Download menu screen, choose something you want to watch. All Netflix originals content is there, including Narcos and Stranger Things, although there are plenty of films too.
Click on the thumbnail of the show or movie and you'll go to their individual Netflix page. If it is a movie, you will see a "Download" icon at the bottom of the film's description. Just tap on that and it will download to your device.
If it is a TV series, you will see the same icon next to each listed episode. Tap on that and that episode will download.
Unlike Amazon, which limits you to two downloads at a time, there is seemingly no limit to how many Netflix videos you can save for offline viewing. Entire seasons can be stored for viewing when travelling, for example. It is also available to all Netflix users, regardless of your subscription.
4. Check your data usage
One thing you should be wary of is using too much of your data allowance or storage space. Thankfully, you can change the settings to ensure you aren't caning either.
Enter the side bar menu again and scroll down to "App Settings". In here you can ensure that video downloads are restricted to when you are connected by Wi-Fi rather than mobile broadband. You can also change the video quality between "Standard" or "Higher". The higher quality setting will naturally use more data to download and require greater storage space.
We found that a 50+ minute episode of Narcos took up approximately 260MB in standard quality, 420MB in higher quality.
You will find that there's almost no point in having the better picture quality on a smartphone screen, but tablet users might notice the resolution differences.
The good news for Android device owners is that Netflix has now made it possible to download content to a Micro SD card. When you go to download a movie or TV show, you'll now see a prompt asking you where you want to save it to.
So that's about that. We found that multiple devices can be used to download content depending on your subscription level, including for different family profiles - great for the kids on car journeys.
Netflix currently costs £5.99 a month for standard definition video streaming to one device at a time only - which we suspect would restrict downloads to one device at a time too. For £7.49 a month, you get HD video and to two devices at a time.
The best package includes 4K HDR video and up to four devices at a time for £8.99 a month.
You can find out more here: netflix.com.