Netflix has introduced new settings to its mobile app to help users streaming over a mobile network stay in control of their data usage. The new tool is available to Android and iOS users and allows them to change the quality of their stream depending on their data limits.
The new tool can be accessed through the "App Settings" button on the latest version Netflix's smartphone app. After selecting "Cellular Data Usage", you will then be able to choose a higher or lower data usage setting according to your data allowance or remaining usage.
According to Netflix, the default setting will allow users to stream about three hours of content per gigabyte of data. In terms of bitrates, this currently amounts to about 600 Kilobits per second (kbit/s).
Netflix says its default setting offers the best balance of quality versus data consumption over a mobile connection. Users on mobile tariffs with higher data caps have the option of increasing this setting to stream at a higher quality, with the highest setting consuming approximately 1GB data per hour of streaming.
Bear in mind that these are just estimates, and actual data usage may vary based on quality of the network connection and the capabilities of the device itself.
Eddy Wu, Netflix's director of product innovation, said the company was looking into ways of letting users stream in higher quality while still reducing the service's impact on data. "We are always working on ways to improve picture quality while streaming more efficiently, so bitrates could change over time," he said.
"Our goal is to give you more control and greater choice in managing your data usage whether you're on an unlimited mobile plan or one that's more restrictive."
We're still waiting for Netflix to introduce offline viewing - allowing users to download shows at home and then view them on the go would all but eliminate the need to stream content using precious mobile data. Still, these new tools offer a decent workaround in the interim and will come as good news to anyone who's inadvertently overstepped their allowance after getting lost in a House of Cards marathon.