The Netflix Mobile App Will Use Less Data (Soon)

Netflix makes constant iterative changes to its movie and TV streaming platform. Some of those are small, and some are major; most don’t make a huge difference to the way you watch videos though. A small change that might do exactly that for mobile users is on the way, though — a data saver option that doesn’t go all-out on video quality, in order to save your previous mobile data.

Talking to Gizmodo at MWC 2016, Netflix’s innovation team detailed a number of small but significant changes it has made in the year since Netflix launched — the way the home screen has evolved on smart TVs and web browsers, for one, shifting from a flat grid to large images and even video clips. That’s part of a larger story, based on feedback from thousands of users and the aggregate data of A-B testing of new features to see if they have a positive impact on the number of videos watched, and of the number of Netflix subscribers that keep paying for a subscription after the changes have been made.

Lots of those changes are currently in testing, but there’s one particularly useful one that is going to hit your account in the near future. Look at the image above for the details — Netflix is creating a new “data saver” opt-in option in its mobile apps for iOS and Android. Apple devices will get the feature first, but it’ll roll out completely soon after. Data saving is an on-or-off thing, too, based on Netflix’s own algorithms that it can adjust in the future rather than a specific bit-rate or resolution cap, which the company things might be confusing for mainstream users.

This is separate to the existing app’s features for allowing HD playback — which uses more data, obviously, due to the higher bitrates required — and for Wi-Fi-only playback. It’s also separate to the existing per-profile playback quality settings, which are global across web and smart TV and mobile devices. The new feature is still in beta, and might change visually a little before it hits your smartphone or tablet, but it’s on the way in some form. We’ll let you know exactly when it comes out. [Netflix]

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