Android: Netflix launches downloads for offline viewing

Also in today’s open source roundup: A first look at Fedora 25, and a review of the Sony Xperia XZ Android phone

Netflix mobile app
Matthew Keys (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Netflix launches downloads for offline viewing

Netflix subscribers who use Android tablets and phones have long wanted the ability to download TV shows and movies for offline viewing. Now the company has finally added that feature for any phone or tablet running Android 4.4.2 or later.

Todd Spangler reports for Variety:

The latest versions of the company’s mobile apps include a “download” button on the details page for a film or TV series — although not all titles on the streaming service are currently available to watch offline. The app also includes a new menu item showing what’s available to download.

Netflix said it will add more series and movies to download in the future. Original series including “Orange Is the New Black,” “Narcos,” “House of Cards,” “Stranger Things,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Master of None” and “The Crown” are available for download starting Wednesday. Other titles available for offline viewing include TV shows “Supernatural,” “The Office,” “The Flash” and “The 100,” and animated movies “Minions” and “Home.”

Netflix’s new download feature is included in all plans and available for Android and iOS phones and tablets. To download titles, users will need iOS 8.0 or later or Android 4.4.2 or later as well as the latest update of Netflix’s app.

More at Variety

Netflix announced the new feature in a press release, and the company also has an offline viewing page up in its official Help Center for those who might run into problems downloading videos. 

News about Netflix letting Android users download TV shows and movies for offline viewing hit the Android subreddit and the folks there shared their thoughts about it:

Jayveesac: “This is a game-changer for long-haul air travel and in-flight entertainment.”

C8-H10-N4-O2: “Just got the app update and the download button is available!

Looks like you can queue multiple items at once though it will only download one item at a time. You can download multiple episodes too - not sure if there's an upper limit.”

Reggie14: “You select them individually, but there isn't an obvious limit to the number of episodes you can select for download.

For the targeted community, storage space is likely to significantly limit the number you can download. But, the sizes are smaller than I expected. Downloads default to low quality, but you can change that to high quality in the app settings. For comparison, Narcos episodes are roughly ~250MB at low quality, and ~500MB at high quality. That's pretty efficient. I watched part of the high-quality download, and I think it looks quite good.

Some sort of automated-download system involving subscriptions would have been nice, where it automatically keeps the next X many next unwatched episodes. Maybe we'll see that in a future update. But, at least in the US, I think downloading is supposed to be the exceptional case, so I'd be a little surprised to see that. If you typically watch shows streaming off a Roku, but occasionally watch something on your phone, you'd end up with a lot of unnecessary downloads.”

Mhelmen: “Can’t transfer to SD Card though...Huge bummer for my part :\”

MGuDiM: “Not everything is downloadable unfortunately, even Netflix owned shows such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones are not available for download.”

Scarlet_Isotopes: “Limited shows and no SD support. Basically useless for all the people with 8-16GB phones.”

Ikeelu: “I hope they bring this to the web version so I can download to my Chromebook. Maybe I've been blind and just haven't noticed it yet. I usually download a movie or two on it from Google play.”

joacopotter7: “Awesome news. I wonder what stops them from making every movie/series available for download though. ”

A_Wonder_Named_Stevi: “Quality of the downloaded videos will be standard, you can chance this in the settings to High. Of course this will take more space.”

Mononon: “Interestingly, Young Justice isn't available to download. Wonder if that implies anything about Season 3's chances of being on Netflix.”

More at Reddit

A first look at Fedora 25

Fedora 25 was released recently, and some writers have been putting it through its paces. One journalist at PCWorld had some positive thoughts about Fedora 25 in a recent article.

Alex Campbell reports for PCWorld:

I really enjoyed my afternoon playing with the new Fedora on my Dell Inspiron testing laptop—mostly because it took so little time to install. Since I prefer GNOME to Ubuntu’s Unity, it was a bonus that the easy installation resulted in Ubuntu 16.04 being supplanted by Fedora 25 on my laptop. Fedora 25 is built for an amazing GNOME experience, but like any Linux distribution, you can choose a flavor that comes with your preferred desktop, or install whatever desktop you want.

One place fedora is a slight disadvantage is in the software download department. While most applications you’ll use will come from Fedora’s repositories, there are some applications (like Chrome) that require you to go fetch a package online or use a third-party repository.

In instances where proprietary software is offered online, I still feel that Ubuntu .deb packages are more common than .rpm packages. Again, the majority of the software you’ll use will likely come from the Fedora repo, so that’s only an issue for a small subset of software.

One of the principal arguments I hear about Linux's inaccessibility for average desktop users is that it’s hard to set up. Fedora 25 definitely attacks that problem head on. The experience is smooth and pleasant from download to first boot, which is why I’ll be recommending Fedora over Ubuntu for newbies and novices.

More at PCWorld

A review of the Sony Xperia XZ phone

Sony has released some very good Android phones, but the company never seems to make as much of a splash in the media as Google or Samsung. Fortunately, a writer at the Sydney Morning Herald has a full review of Sony’s Xperia XZ Android phone.

Tim Biggs reports for The Sydney Morning Herald:

Ultimately the XZ just beats out Google's Pixel to be my personal favourite phone of the year so far (I say so far because I'm yet to give LG's V20 a proper look), but if you're looking to grab the latest and greatest Android handset your decision is hardly cut and dried. The two phones (and, indeed, most flagship Androids) are similar in many ways, and it will come down to which little enhancements you prefer.

The Pixel has a newer processor, more RAM and the latest version of Android, while the XZ has a bigger battery with (unproven) longevity claims, an SD card slot and is IP68 certified dust proof and water resistant. The Pixel comes in your choice of 5-inch or 5.5-inch, while the XZ is a comfortable middle ground. Both feel great in the hand and have quick fingerprint sensors, although I prefer Sony's side-mounted unit to Google's rear one. The XZ is easier on the wallet, but not by much.

The Pixel comes with some very Google features like the all-seeing Assistant, tight integration with Google Photos and fantastic, artist-focused wallpapers built-in. Meanwhile the XZ comes with some very Sony features like PlayStation compatibility, Hi-Res audio and a brilliant display. The XZ lacks the software wizadry that makes Pixel's camera the undisputed king of all-rounders, with unmatched low-light photography, but its autofocus is fast and its panel of sensors nails white balance and colour correctness much more often.

Given the above I would already be leaning towards Sony's offering, but if I needed a tie breaker it would be aesthetics. There is simply no other smartphone that looks like the XZ, from its square minimalist shell to its cut-out lock screen, and I much prefer it to the rounded edges and candy icons of virtually every other 2016 phone.

More at The Sydney Morning Herald

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