Streaming video can be one of the biggest data hogs on your cellphone plan, which is a bummer when you're on the road or away from home and feel a binge session coming on.
Now Netflix has announced a sort of solution: subscribers will be able to adjust the quality of the video they watch to use as little - or as much - data as they want.
The company first started testing this kind of feature in March on Android devices - a test that accidentally made it out into consumers' hands for a brief period of time. Now, however, it is rolling out to mobile device users on iOS and Android devices.
According to the company's blog post, there are six data usage options from which to choose, based on how much you want to watch:
- Off - You will only be able to stream on the device while connected to Wi-Fi.
- Auto - Netflix will select a data usage setting that balances data usage with good video quality. Currently this will allow you to watch about three hours per GB of data.
- Low - Watch about four hours per GB of data.
- Medium - Watch about two hours per GB of data.
- High - Watch about one hour per GB of data.
- Unlimited - Recommended only if you have an unlimited data plan. This setting will stream at the highest possible quality for your device and the content you are viewing. This may use 1 GB per 20 minutes or more depending on your device and network speeds.
"The default setting will enable you to stream about 3 hours of TV shows and movies per gigabyte of data," said Eddy Wu, Neflix's Director of Product Innovation. "Our testing found that, on cellular networks, this setting balances good video quality with lower data usage to help avoid exceeding data caps and incurring overage fees."
The company did warn that data use may vary depending on your mobile carrier -- meaning some carriers may count data differently than Netflix does - and reiterated that this feature only applies to streaming off a cell network. Those who already only stream on WiFi aren't affected; those who tether, or use their phone's signal as a WiFi network, will also not be affected by this change.