Streaming video puts the world of television and video at your fingertips on an iPhone or iPad in an age of unlimited Internet download bandwidth.* (*Many ISPs and wireless carriers have their own definition of “unlimited”.) Often overlooked, however, is how many streaming services have added offline options for periods of low bandwidth and no bandwidth. This includes Apple TV+.
As someone who has recently spent about 40 hours on planes and 30 hours on trains on a business trip and a vacation, I want to praise the virtue of not having to rely on in-flight or on-the-go data options, even if they turn out to be surprisingly good .
Big tip for those who have Wi-Fi available on flights and don’t pay for data, but just use a free or low-cost text messaging option: When connected to Wi-Fi, some streaming apps will try to verify even if you don’t have an internet connection before playing offline content. Swipe to display the Control Center, tap the Wi-Fi icon to disable that connection, and try the app again. You can turn Wi-Fi back on after the video starts playing.
Here’s a quick rundown on how to download videos and where to find your downloads on some of the most popular apps, including Hoopla, a partner of many public libraries:
- Amazon Prime Video: A Download button appears on the description page for items that can be saved offline. Press To download button at the bottom of the screen to view locally saved items and see the size of each. (Tap “Download More Videos” to see a filtered list of available media.)
- TV app: Any video available for download, including all media from Apple TV+, will have a downward pointing arrow on the main page for movies and on the series page and every episode for TV shows. Crane Library > downloaded to see what’s on your device and start playback.
- Disney+: Press To download button, which seems to be available to everything since Disney owns all the content. Downloads are managed by tapping the down-facing button at the bottom of the app. The size of each item is displayed.
- HBO Max: HBO only allows downloads if you subscribe to the ad-free plan level. A downward-pointing icon appears next to what the company describes as “most shows and movies.” Tap the download arrow icon at the bottom of the screen to view locally stored media. HBO Max limits downloads to 30 on all devices using the same account, and items must be viewed within two days of starting viewing. However, they can be extended by tapping afterwards.
- hurrah: Press To borrow item on movies or TV episodes that can be streamed or downloaded. Tap “Download to your device” after the loan is complete. Items may only be available for a few days. Tap “My Hoopla” and the borrowed link at the top to find downloaded items.
- hulu: a To download button appears on the item for each movie available for download. Press To download button at the bottom of the app to see what’s already saved. This also shows the size of each downloaded item. (You can tap “See What’s Downloadable” to browse only available items.) Hulu only allows downloaded videos to play within 30 days in total or within two days of starting viewing. It requires a live internet connection to refresh the video, but no new download.
- Netflix: Videos that can be downloaded have a To download button on their main stream. Show episodes show both the next episode you haven’t watched at the top as a download button and a down-pointing arrow with a line below it to the right of other episodes in a season listing. Press To download button at the bottom of the app to find downloads, listing each available item with their size, including the total size of all TV series episodes.
(Netflix has also introduced a really terrifying option: From the Downloads view, tap Set up below Introducing downloads for you, and the app will try to anticipate what you need. I can’t think of anything worse, but it means “there’s always something to watch on your device.”)
After watching a show or movie, or coming back from a trip, don’t forget to clear the occupied space. This is especially useful if your iPhone or iPad has 64GB or 128GB of storage:
- In Institutions > General > iPhone/iPad storage, you can tap some apps, including Netflix, and manage download deletion directly. Some apps may be flagged, such as TV, where a “Review app Downloads” may appear for direct access.
- All allow you to use their interface to remove downloads, and some require it, using the downloads/downloaded sections described above.
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