Archive for May, 2013
Here at Plex, we’re big fans of Drobo. Many of us have owned them since the first-generation units (I had two, personally), and none of us ever lost a single byte of data in years of use.
We were excited to hear about the new Drobo 5N devices, because they seemed like a really good fit for the Plex Media Server. The deceptively compact boxes are packing a quad-core processor (of which 3 cores are available for applications), and it’s got much more RAM than your average ARM-based NAS.
The usual issue with running on low-powered, energy-efficient devices is the lack of ability to do transcoding. However, the Drobo’s ARM processors, while not able to perform video transcoding in real-time, CAN transcode multi-channel audio to stereo AAC in real-time (easily!), and can remux (a fancy word for repackaging audio and video without converting it) video much faster than real-time. In fact, in our testing it could sustain multiple simultaneous streams without issues.
What does this mean? It means that you can stuff a Drobo full of MKV files and stream them in real-time to our highly rated iOS or Android or Roku apps. Or stream them to a PS3 using DLNA, or to the Windows 8 app. Or of course use the Plex Media Center (which doesn’t require any transcoding), or Plex for Google TV (which plays most formats natively), or the Plex app for Samsung devices, or an LG TV. Lots of possibilities!
Greetings to all our iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users! Although Android has been getting all the attention recently, rest assured that the iOS team have been working hard in the background!
We’ve got some great changes & new features to share with you in the next major update. However, we realise that the recent changes to the filtering features have made using the app less simple and enjoyable for some users, particularly those with large libraries. We didn’t want to leave you all waiting until the next big update to resolve those issues, so we’re very happy to bring you a small update to address the main problems.
First of all, we’ve added paging support to the app. Without going into too many techincal details, this means that the app requests media information in batches rather than asking for all the information at once. This makes section loading and filtering incredibly fast. You’ll notice the difference no matter how large your library is, but it’ll make a huge difference over remote connections or when accessing large libraries.
We’ve also addressed all known issues relating to PlexSync, including one awful issue that could cause all synced content to be removed when syncing over a slow or unreliable network connection. This should make syncing content far more reliable, which is obviously very important to us considering it’s a premium feature.
While paging addresses the most common complaints with the recent versions of the app, we didn’t feel like we’d done enough to warrant an update from 3.1 to 3.2, so we added another small feature – remote playback! Plex/iOS will now advertise as a player, allowing you to fling content and control playback from any Plex client supporting remote playback to the iOS client.45 comments
It’s always tricky when a piece of software is rewritten from scratch. Even though it might be objectively better in almost every conceivable way, people get used to things being a certain way, and regardless of how big or small a change is, there will always be someone who hates the change.
With the new Plex for Android, we actually talked a lot ahead of the release about possible stress points, and we predicted there would be some blowback over the lack of a full remote (even as we worked hard to add it back). At some point, though, you go to Google Play with the app you have.
We also predicted some complaints about the requirement to have a myPlex account, but we were honestly a bit taken aback by the volume and tone of the feedback on this point. I believe we didn’t explain clearly why a myPlex account might be useful, and what information is sent up. Quick summary:
- You can sign up with just username and email (and we don’t even verify email)!
- The only other information we pass to myPlex from Plex for Android is a bit of device information (make, model, Android version, etc.)
- myPlex helps make local server detection more reliable. This might sound a bit crazy, but detecting local resources on network using broadcast/multicast is fraught with peril. It is more often more reliable to have the two resources talk to a third party.
- myPlex accounts make remote connections to Plex servers configuration-free, without a need for DynDNS or other such services. (Before you beard out on me, remember that most people don’t want to set up a VPN, or remember and type in an IP address.)
- myPlex doesn’t see what media you’re playing, or know what’s in your library. It helps Plex app A locate Plex server B, and then the two talk directly.
- myPlex is required for PlexSync.
- myPlex is used to send native device notifications to iOS, Android, and (soon) Windows 8 devices. These notifications are currently used for friend invites, media recommendations, and PlexSync.
- You can queue web videos up to watch later with a myPlex account.
- You can share your media with other myPlex account-holders.
- In the future, we’ll be using myPlex for other awesome, cool, neat, amazing things.
A review from the new version:
Needless to say, he only gave us a single star, and presumably because zero stars wasn’t an option. John (and others similarly annoyed by this update): We will work tirelessly to make sure the new Plex for Android works well. There is a lot to love about this new version, if you give it a chance. Promise.
In that vein, we’ve pushed a quick update to Google Play with the following changes:
- NEW: Removed myPlex sign in as a requirement for the non-PlexPass version.
- NEW: A first working version of the Remote Control Widget.
- FIX: Remove (completely unused) location permissions.
- FIX: Recommendations and sharing for episode and movie online content.
And yes, you can haz a Barkley.