Netflix uses a lot of data. That’s fine and dandy when you’re on your laptop using Wi-Fi, but with most mobile plans limited to specific allotment of gigabytes, it can be a problem. Thankfully, the company is working on a solution.
Netflix now offers a beta channel on the Play Store, where the company will presumably show off its latest features in the works before they hit the general public. The most notable feature in the beta is the new ‘Mobile Data Saver’ option in the settings menu.
Europe’s leading tech festival
TNW Conference is back for its 12th year. Reserve your 2-for-1 ticket voucher now.
The move is reminiscent of T-Mobile’s controversial Binge-On feature, which streams video at around 480p and uses some compression tricks so viewers can watch ‘unlimited’ video without bogging down the network.
Unfortunately, the company isn’t specifying just how much data you’ll save; the option simply says it will “use less of your mobile data plan while watching Netflix.” According to Android Police, the code appears to lower the bandwidth available to the app when it detects you’re not on WiFi, but again, no specifics.
The other update to the app includes support for subscribing to the service through Google Play’s billing platform, but pricing won’t be visible until the change goes live in the Play Store itself. We imagine the company will use the same pricing scheme it uses online – despite the fact that Google takes a 30 percent cut of Play Store transactions.
We’ve contacted Netflix for specifics on the data saver feature and will update this post if we hear back.
Update 2:27 PM ET: Netflix told TechCrunch that the Data Saver features is rolling out to a small number of users but isn’t actually part of the Beta program; some standard app users have noted the feature as well.
Furthermore, Netflix has quickly pulled the beta program, saying it wasn’t meant for consumers, and that any features that show up there aren’t necessarily meant for public release. The Data Saver feature was first announced at Mobile World Congress as an upcoming feature, so it’s appearance along with the beta appears to have been coincidental.