Beta: Downloads and Offline Playback

Downloads and offline playback are now in beta.

We've all been waiting a long time for this! We've spent an even longer time laying down Channels' internals so that it works well and is HIGHLY reliable.

We've released the first beta for iPhone and iPad. Download any recording onto your mobile device at full quality and watch it on the road, on a plane or anywhere at all. To join the beta, go here: Channels — Beta Program

We've added a new download button next to each recording (and in context menus). You can access your downloads via the button in the navigation bar in the Library Tab. When you are truly offline, you'll see a Downloads button on the welcome screen to get to your downloads.

What about Android

As usual, this work is happening on our primary platform first. Once we're happy with the user experience, it will be ported to Android. UX is a huge part of our beta process.

Much of the work that powers Downloads is already in both of our platforms. Additionally, the extra work for Downloads is part of our cross platform internals that are already shared with our platforms. This means it ports over to Android well, and without a lot of additional code. UI work WILL need to be done for Android though. And it will come soon.

Notable items

  • Watch state is synced between your device and server when available. If you're offline, it will sync the next time your app is online.
  • Downloads all happen at Original quality so they can be quite large (some Cable TV recordings could be as much as 7GB/hour)
  • Downloads will not happen on Cellular, so make sure you're on WiFi if you want to download
  • Downloads are not automatically deleted, it'll be up to you to delete them when you're done watching

This will be evolving, like all of our betas. Please try this out and report all issues to this thread.

Open Issues

  • None

Resolved Issues

  • Fixed in build 11.04.2301: Right now the check to prevent downloads on Cellular appears to be broken. Cellular downloads are currently working and we are trying to find a fix to not chew through data plans.
13 Likes

WHOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!
Thanks devs! This was literally THE ONLY feature I've felt like I was really missing with this app.

3 Likes

I was able to download over 5G, just so you're aware. I do have the "Data Mode" option set to Allow More Data on 5G so maybe that's why? I prefer to have the ability to download over cellular for sure.

Update: I tried it on Standard "Data Mode", force closed the app, then relaunched and it still allowed me to download.

So excited!

Is there any hope for a server-side transcode to h.264/HEVC to speed up downloads and reduce data usage?

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WOW - and I'm leaving on my first trip in eons next week. YYYYYYYEEEEEESSSSSSS :slight_smile:

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@billyjoe could you submit diagnostics from the app? I'd like to understand what's going on there.

@eric Submitted

In our tests on home WiFi, we found that the download speeds are surprisingly fast. Most hardware transcoders we've seen aren't able to encode much faster than 2x realtime, which would mean for a 60 minute show, it would take 30 minutes to download. We've found downloading at Original quality happens much faster than that.

We're definitely going to look at how we can provide a transcoded download in the future to reduce the storage requirements on the device (and make it faster to download from hotel WiFi, etc), but it will definitely be slower to download as a result.

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Thanks, @billyjoe. I got the diagnostics and am trying to understand why it didn't stop the download as soon as it noticed the cellular.

For this initial release, we're going to be trying hard to not do any cellular downloads to prevent accidentally using up peoples data plans. Once we are sure we have that solid, we'll work out a strategy to allow people to override it on a download-by-download basis.

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@eric I understand, Wi-Fi only definitely seems like the reasonable default. Let me know if you’d like me to test again.

Yeah, you're right of course. But I was thinking more along the lines of an [optional] transcode right after record, rather than storing in the original format. It would take less disk space on the server, and make for faster transfers.

This is an entirely different feature that would be outside the scope of Downloads. It's something we'd like to do, but it would be something that would just be on its own that Downloads would benefit from.

6 Likes

Absolutely fantastic!! I’ve been waiting for this feature. Keep up the phenomenal work Devs.

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Dvr server Version 2021.11.01.0011 Ubuntu 20
iPhone 12 TestFlight 11.3.1700
What am I missing? I’m not seeing any download buttons or options

Good stuff! Im glad to see the ability to download finally arrive. It does seem to download pretty quickly as well.

I did notice one problem in a quick test. I selected a movie from my library that is there as a streamline and the download option is available for that selection. It did fail to download but ideally it wouldn't present the download option for streamlines.

Wrong TestFlight version; you need 11.4.1830 or later.

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That’s was it. Thank you

I'll check this out. The button should be hidden for Stream Links.

This is awesome. Leaving on a trip Saturday and was about to start manually copying stuff when I saw this. Thanks!

1 Like