Wondering how the download feature of Netflix for offline video playback works on iOS devices? Officials from Netflix explains the technicality behind it in an interview.

It has taken far longer than most would have liked, but Netflix finally allows subscribers to its video streaming service to download content for offline playback. Many competitors have allowed a similar feature for some time, but Netflix has begun to explain why it opted to wait to get things right rather than release something that wasn’t quite ready. Specifically, Netflix wanted to be able to keep the file size of downloaded movies and TV shows down to a minimum without compromising quality.

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As you might imagine, doing such a thing is not the easiest thing in the world. However, Netflix says that technology built by Google allowed Netflix on Android to download media for offline playback with minimal issues without causing huge file downloads. That of course meant that owners with Android devices were just fine, but anyone using competing iOS devices were unfortunately out of luck. That’s where Netflix decided to get creative in order to get the job done.

Speaking with Variety, Netflix reveals that part of the magic involved splitting movies and TV shows into small, three-minute chunks ready for download. The result is a codec, Google’s VP9, in combination with file-splitting.

For its new download option, the company is taking the idea one step further: Instead of changing these settings per title, Netflix is cutting each and every video into one-to-three-minute-long chunks. Computers then analyze the visual complexity of each and every of these clips, and encode with settings that are optimized for its visual complexity.

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As a result of this, files downloaded from Netflix on iOS take up to 19% less space than they normally would, which – in a world where 16GB devices are everywhere – can make all the difference.

Well done Netflix – anything that saves data whether that be in transit or on-device is fine by us!

(Source: Variety)

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