Archive for the 'Holy Cow' Category
Fall is in the air, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, at least in the United States. The leaves are turning, and the first snow has already fallen in some parts of the country. I’m personally looking forward to the smell of warm pies baking, turkeys roasting, garlic-infused mashed potatoes with altogether too much butter, and of course spending time with family.
Thanksgiving implies travel for many people. Crowded airports, long drives, lots of time in lines, or pretending to fall asleep next to talkative strangers on planes. In other words, the perfect time for using Plex.
Unfortunately, wireless broadband is far from ubiquitous, and even when it’s available, it’s usually expensive, mostly slow, and sometimes even metered. This sucks, and it sucks even worse if you’re trying to stream high definition video.
Today, we’re doing something about that.
(We’ve actually been working especially hard this last month to finish it up in time for Thanksgiving!)
Ladies and gentlemen, we are incredibly proud to be to introduce PlexSync to you. It’s available today for iOS, and will be available for Android in the next couple of weeks.
Syncing media to the device is probably the most highly requested features since we launched the mobile apps, and rightly so. Using PlexSync, you can flag content from your library (or from certain channels) for download. Once you’ve done that, your server will convert the content you selected to a compatible format, and the mobile client will download the content to your device so you can view it when you’re offline.
PlexSync is a premium feature. It is currently in beta, and as such we’re making it available free of charge to our PlexPass members during the beta period. We’ll collect feedback, fix all the bugs, and make sure it works amazingly well. Let’s explore some key features of PlexSync:
- PlexSync is universal: It doesn’t matter whether you want to sync content from your library or from a channel – PlexSync can handle it all. Personally, I can’t live without my Vimeo Staff Picks, best videos on the Internet, so let’s grab a few to watch. See that little download button in the upper right? Tap it like it’s hot.
- PlexSync is rich: When you’re offline, you get almost exactly the same experience as if you were online. All your metadata is visible, along with posters, background art and theme music, and you can filter your content just as if you were browsing live content from your server. How awesome is that? Here I am in offline mode, can you taste the richness?
- PlexSync is flexible: You decide exactly what you want to sync. PlexSync can sync everything, limit based on duration, or number of items, or filter out episodes you’ve already watched – you name it. Here I am syncing 3 Pixar Movies, because, honestly, nothing keeps my (imaginary) kids quiet for hours like watching a lamp bounce around on a squeaky ball over and over again.
- PlexSync is smart: Your server will automatically convert more content for your device as you watch videos you’ve already synced. And your watched state & view offsets are synced back to your server the next time you connect. The sync details are stored in the cloud, so they can be edited even if your server is offline. Here I’m watching the media conversion take place on the server. My server is converting the file at 7.2x realtime, since it has more CPUs than Angelina Jolie has adopted children.
- PlexSync is considerate: Your server won’t use precious CPU cycles to convert your content if you’re already converting something for watching live. Additionally, you can instruct the app to only display synced content when you’re not on a Wi-Fi network, ensuring Plex doesn’t gobble up your cellular data allowance. Check out this sexy new connectivity setting:
- PlexSync works great with subtitles: We support SRT, SMI, SSA, and – happy days! – PGS and VOBSUB too.
- PlexSync is developer friendly: There is an API, and we expect that people will do cool and creative things with it. There is a flexible profile-based system (similar to the DLNA profiles) which configures how the media conversion is done.
We are very happy to share PlexSync with you today, and along with it all the other great features of Plex 3.0 for iOS. Barkley is happy too, but his contract currently only provides for using his likeness in media server release posts.286 comments
About 10 weeks ago, we did something a little different: We released a new Plex web app into the hands of our PlexPass members. The app wasn’t finished by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a giant step towards replacing the aging and slow Plex web manager (and the aging and slow Cocoa manager on OS X), and a giant leap into the future, where you could access, organize, and play all of your media from anywhere in the world with just a web browser.
Releasing as early as we did to a group so passionate about Plex was an unqualified success. Over this period, we made about 10 releases of the app into PlexPass, adding features, implementing your suggestions, and fixing the bugs you reported. We want to thank you all – from the bottom of our hearts – for your help and feedback. Because of you, we have a much better app to show as a result.
To those who are not yet PlexPass members, we are shortly going to be releasing into your hands something that we’re very proud of. We’re confident that because of this PlexPass “gauntlet” it had to pass through, you’re getting a better app than you otherwise would have, and mostly likely sooner than you would have otherwise gotten it. Those guys really held our feet to the fire And if you would like to help shape Plex, and get early access to cool stuff, you can sign up here!
During the same period, we also made three pre-releases of the next Plex Media Server to PlexPass members, with added API functionality for Plex/Web and a few other really cool things we wanted to preview. One of those is a new transcoder which goes idle when it gets ahead, instead of simply taking up the entire CPU. It also supports subtitles on the PS3. We’ll release it publicly at the same time as Plex/Web.
At around the same time as we launch Plex/Web and the new media server, we’ll be introducing a brand new preview for our PlexPass members, of a premium feature. We can’t say anything more about it except that if you have a mobile device, we think you’ll really, really like it.
Without further ado, let’s take a quick tour through some of the coolest things we’ve added to Plex/Web in this period. First up, something that’s been requested for literally years, multi-selection. Type in “star wars” in the quick filter, select all the movies, and add them to a new collection. Or delete the ones with Jar Jar.
We’ve also added support for universal search. Quickly search for movies, artist, albums, shows, episodes, and online videos from a single place. I do love my zombie movies, apparently.
Sometimes it’s late at night, we’re all hanging out in the Plex chat room, and someone says “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” That’s how remote playback got added; that’s right, you can now fling media from any web browser to Plex apps which support remote control.
We’ve also added support for audio stream and subtitle selection, as well as actually displaying subtitles in the player.
We’ve also added support for browsing audio and photo channels (and improved support for video channels).
The On Deck feature is super popular, so we added an easy one-click way to access it inside sections.
One of our foremost goals with Plex/Web was to greatly improve the “first run” experience for new users. Historically, on OS X we had a wizard, but it was out of date; on Linux and Windows, we didn’t have anything at all. We’re now thrilled that Plex/Web has an extensive setup wizard which integrates myPlex setup, lets you drag the bookmarklet right from the wizard, and lots of other stuff.
Last, but not least, the media server keeps a rich universe of information about your media, and we’re trying to do more to expose it. To this end, we added a nice “media info” dialog which shows lots of details. Media nerds will love it, and it’ll definitely help for diagnostic purposes.
In summary, Plex/Web kicks some galactic-level derrière. Coming soon, to a browser near you…
(And if you’re dying to check it out right now, get yourself a backstage PlexPass…)91 comments
As you know, there are two media managers for Plex today: the OS X-only one, which is pretty fast and stylish, but showing its age, and the web-based one, which is very functional, but has some glaring issues (the technology behind it just wasn’t productive or performant enough for our needs). We evaluated a bunch of different options, and settled on a Bootstrap-based web application.
We had some lofty goals for this new app: First of all, it had to be fast, even with huge sections. Like, much faster than even the old OS X manager. Secondly, why stop at management? We wanted you to have the ability to play music, watch videos, and view photos, right in your browser. In addition, why not have the ability to manage and view channels in the same interface? And what about powerful new ways to slice and dice your media library? And by God, it had to work well on mobile devices too, and across browsers.
In short, this new web client is the most powerful Plex client around. Is it done? Nope, but it’s close enough that we wanted to share it with our PlexPass members. Let’s take a quick tour.
Isn’t that a work of beauty? This is the dashboard view, where you can see all your library sections, recently used channels, your myPlex queue and recommendations (oh, right, did I mention it connects to myPlex?). This thing will knock the socks off your cat.
This is the browse view in one of my movie sections. Pay close attention to the rich filters & sorting area on the right hand side. Lets find all the sports movies in the last three years and sort by rating. A few clicks later, we have our answer. Looks like I’ll be watching Moneyball and not Goon.
One click and I’m in the details screen for the movie:
And time to watch!
There’s much more, but that should give you a taste for it. If you’re interested in more of the philosophy and details behind the app, we even threw together a “podcast” style interview with two of the key developers, Eric and Schuyler, being interviewed by our own Tobias. Download the conversation here.
The new Plex web client is available right now in beta form for all PlexPass members (if you want to sign up, visit this page). THE NEW MEDIA SERVER IS REQUIRED. We hope to gather some excellent feedback as we finish up the first release. Once we’re done with the remaining work, it’ll be available, for free, for everyone to enjoy before too long.
(And remember, if you don’t want to sign up for PlexPass, it’s totally optional. It’s designed for the most Plex-obsessed of you, in an attempt to get you cool new stuff earlier than we otherwise would, and bring you into the conversation.)
The new Web Client is included with the latest media server release described in Part 1. In order to access it, simply hit http://x.x.x.x:32400/web or hit the Web Client links from your server page on myPlex.