By now, we’re all familiar with XBMC. The megascale, multiplatform media player has become nearly ubiquitous in HTPC circles, far outgrowing its original home on its vestigial namesake, the original Microsoft Xbox. In fact, we’ve featured quite a few stories that talk about how to integrate XBMC Controller into your HTPC workflow, as well as the release and update of XBMC for Android, a third-party port feared specifically for everyone’s favorite mobile OS.
Just a few hours ago, a heavily updated and stable build was released. As with the previously featured nightly builds, these are brought to us courtesy of the rest of theÂ XBMCANDROID Team by XDA Senior MemberÂ kemonine96.
So what sets this build apart from the previously covered nightlies? Quite a bit, actually. The first difference that users will notice is that the current stable build is much more user-friendly than previous offerings. Â However, the user interface isn’t all that was changed. Since the primary use of XBMC for many users is to watch various types of streaming web content, several add-ons were bundled with the app. Furthermore, users with dedicated setups can now use XBMC as their exclusive launcher.
While bundled plugins and an improved UI are important, perhaps the biggest new feature is the addition of external player support. Given that the app itself currently lacks hardware accelerated video playback, support for external players was vital in order to ensure that users could play back high bitrate content without dropped frames or other forms of heartache. In the words of kemonine96 himself:
This release is basically the first end user friendly version of XBMC for Android that should work great on pretty much any Android powered device. Since XBMC still doesn’t support hardware accelerated video decoding on most devices, support for an external video player is included in this release, that way you’ll still be able to enjoy a flawless XBMC experience since the external video player itself does support hardware accelerated video decoding.
You’ll also find that a bunch of customizations have been made in order to make the whole XBMC experience more enjoyable for the end user, including shortcuts, the ability to use XBMC as a Launcher (and launch Android Apps Settings from within XBMC), along with many of the most popular XBMC addons bundled directly into the release.
One important distinction with this new release that the developers are trying to make is that XBMC is not simply a “media player,” but rather a “media platform.”
Hopefully this will change the public perception of XBMC just being a media player, and most people will realize that it’s much more: a media platform that interfaces with online streaming video content, bringing online streaming technology directly to your favourite devices in an easy to navigate system with endless possibilities.
Those wishing to learn more can have their information fill in the application thread. Here, you can find more information on the supported third-party players, as well as bundled plugins and release notes.