New Youtube experiment automatically downloads videos

Youtube video experiments for Premium subscribers are nothing new as the company has been providing them to paying members for some time now. Just last month near Christmas, it was showing off something called “Heatseaker” (yeah, that’s how you spell it). This feature allowed you to see hotspots on the video scrubber where people watched the most so that you could skip around to the most interesting parts without sitting through the other stuff.

While not yet widely available, you may now be able to try out a new experiment called “Smart Downloads”. First spotted by 9to5Google, this will be available until February 14, 2022 on Android and it will “automatically download videos when your Android device is connected to Wi-Fi”.

Anyone who remembers the “Offline Mixtape” feature that Youtube Music had a while back will be familiar with Smart Downloads while they’re live. Once turned on, Youtube will automatically pick 20 videos every week that you may be interested in based on your activity. The purpose of this is to give you something to watch while you’re not connected to the internet but to take the work out of choosing what exactly you’ll have to download.

The main reason I see this being useful is that most people don’t anticipate that they will be without a connection unless they’re traveling in remote locations or taking a flight, so having Youtube perform this selection process on your behalf means you won’t have to be bored in those dead spots.

Of course, you’ll have to have enough storage space available on your device for Smart Downloads to operate, and anyone with less will be notified that they need to take extra steps to continue when the app attempts to choose some content in the background.

Once downloaded, you can access the videos offline in the Youtube app via the Library tab under the “Downloads” section. The experiment will automatically disappear after the 14th and will not reappear unless Google decides to launch it as a full-fledged feature for the video platform.

However, experiments often become features, and the whole purpose of letting Premium users try them out is to collect feedback for implementation! Let me know if you think this is useful, or if you’ll avoid it altogether when and if it ever launches officially.

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