Indian movie aficionados and those looking to fill dead time commuting just got a huge new reason to look at Spuul, a ‘Netflix for Bollywood’-style streaming service, after it introduced offline downloads to its Android app.
Common in music apps like Spotify, offline downloads are set to be a big thing soon. YouTube is introducing the feature next month, while Amazon’s newest Kindle Fire tablets can download Amazon Prime content for viewing later — but Spuul has jumped ahead by giving the option to all Android users.
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The new Spuul feature allows members of the $4.99 per month (or $49.99 per year) ‘premium’ tier to download up to 10 movies for viewing offline. Each film is saved within the app and comes with a 72-hour ‘lease,’ after which the user must log-in to Spuul to verify their membership (thereafter another 72-hour window is added).
Unlike Amazon, 18-month-old Spuul allows users to specify the quality of film they wish to save offline. So those on weak connections can opt for lower sized files (typically around 300MB) which will download faster — typically there are another 2-3 options for each film, including HD quality where available.
The feature is Android-first, but Spuul Chief Product Officer Michael Smith indicated to TNW that there are plans to bring offline viewing to the iOS app too.
We recently highlighted that many developers in Asia are prioritizing Android over iOS, and Smith admits that on this occasion the simplified processes for Google Play are behind the decision:
The moving parts led us to do this on Android first, and a big part of that is down to there being no app store approvals. We can push the update out, make more changes if we need to, and so on. That makes bleeding edge features easier to experiment with on Google Play.
Initially users are unable to play videos while they download — though Spuul is working to fix that — but the download process has been optimized to work even if a connection is broken. That means you can leave the app downloading overnight and you should wake up to offline videos, even if your Internet cut out for a few hours.
Smith admits that many in the content industry are wary of offline viewing given the potential for piracy, but he says that Spuul’s content is always encrypted — during streaming, download and playback processes — which offers a high level of protection.
Of course, in reality, there’s little you can do if an individual with the knowledge wants to hack into a device to get content — and that applies to many things — but what Spuul is doing is commendable for providing further convenience for its users, particularly those in India on limited bandwidth or prepaid tariffs.
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