Archive for the 'Really, dawg?' Category
(Random inconsequential factoid: when I was a kid, I tried to memorize lots of digits of Pi to – obviously – impress the ladies. Never made it past 15 digits.)
Happy Pi day, Plexians! I hope you’re all doing something date-appropriate like watching TV or relaxing an hour and six minutes earlier than usual. If, on the other hand, you’re feeling like letting your geek flag fly, you should check out the RasPlex project.
A bit of background: The Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer which sells for as little as $25. Size and price notwithstanding, the popular device packs a powerful graphics chip which allows for HD video decoding and high performance 3D graphics. Sound like a perfect device to run Plex Home Theater on? You’re not alone in thinking that. Thankfully, Sam Nazarko has been doing brilliant work on making XBMC (which Plex Home Theater is based on) really run well on the Raspberry Pi with his Raspbmc project.
And I have to say, the combination of the Raspberry Pi and Plex Media Server is especially compelling, given our awesome transcoder: Any codecs the board can’t handle natively can be transcoded in real time by the server.
Thus, a few months ago, RasPlex was born. We were approached by Dale with his ideas for the project, which even included a cool-looking custom case for the device. If you have a Raspberry Pi already, you can download an early release of the Plex Home Theater port today from his site.
There’s nothing that makes us happier than more options for running Plex! (And it’s especially cool when the option comes from our amazing community.)34 comments
Almost a year ago, I wrote a post introducing Plex for Windows Phone. In that post, I had some harsh words for Android. Turns out a lot has changed since then.
One of my biggest gripes against Android was how unresponsive the user interface was, even after four major iterations of the platform. Little did I know, the geniuses at Google were hard at work on Project Butter, and I have to say, butter tastes good.
What Android has going for it, more than any other mobile platform, is a supreme lack of complacency. Besides silky smoothness, Jelly Bean also introduces large improvements in the notification system. And Google Cloud Messaging (which completely replaced Cloud to Device Messaging), is far superior than iOS push notifications.
When the iPhone came out, it was 5 years ahead of anything else in the space. Indubitably. But one would be hard-pressed to argue that the platform has progressed with anything close to the speed at which Android has. Let’s be frank: when it first came out, Android was crap. But when you have two cars racing on a long straight highway, over time, velocity is everything. So 5 years later, Apple is no longer 5 years ahead. And more dangerously, their speed is unimpressive as of late. Their hardware is outstanding, best in the world. But iOS itself, honestly, feels like it’s languishing.
The other big complaint I had against Android was its development ecosystem. This is something Microsoft understood, and got right with its Metro [sic] toolset. It is very easy to make a nice “modern” Windows app (or whatever they’re calling it this week).
When we first started with Plex for Android, the edit/build/deploy cycle was glacial. So bad that when the app finally ran, you literally forgot what change you were deploying to test. That bad. Google should have focused earlier and with more passion on tooling. Empower the developers, and you’ll reap the rewards when they empower your platform. Annoy your developers, and you’ll have a software ecosystem problem.
Today, that problem is mostly solved. I can edit and deploy to my Nexus 7 in a few seconds. The x86 emulator is much faster than the emulator of yesteryear, running inside a Linux VM, on top of an emulated ARM processor (apparently nobody watched Inception). There are still annoyances, and IntelliJ’s UI designer for layouts is sadly primitive compared to Visual Studio, but it’s much, much better.
So where does that leave Android, and perhaps more importantly, Android users? In a good place, and getting better. For the first time ever, you can actually find Android software which is comparable (and sometimes ever better) than the iOS versions. As an example, I love the Lantern Campfire app. It runs in the background, notifies me of new messages, and looks infinitely better than 37 Signals’ pathetic excuse for an official app. I could go on, but our friend Aayush Arya wrote a brilliant article which I highly recommend you read.
I realize, you’re here for Plex news, not a 500 word meandering diatribe on mobile operating systems, so I apologize. I felt the need to update my previous thoughts on the matter, and, as a fellow Plexian said, eat some crow. Nom nom nom.
I’ll make the actual news short and sweet: we’ve rewritten Plex for Android from scratch. Frankly, we learned a lot of lessons from the old app, and it served us well. But we’ve been reading and re-reading the Android Design Guidelines, and we thought we could do better, especially if we dropped support for older versions of Android.
We targeted Android 3.2 or newer, used some great platform features (Google Cloud Messaging, lock-screen music controls, global search integration), and you’re going to love it. It also supports PlexSync. To everyone who has been patiently waiting, I apologize for the delay, but it will have been worth it. The app is fast, smooth, and beautiful. It uses paging and infinite scrolling and network data compression, which means access to giant libraries is super fast. It supports the same rich filters you’ve gotten to know and love from Plex/Web. And most importantly, it’s a great platform to build on.
We’ve prepared a little video which shows off the new Plex for Android (codenamed Kepler, in case you cared). You’ll want to watch it all the way through, because in the video you’ll see unveiled a surprise MAJOR feature (never seen before) that will literally, blow your minds.
We didn’t just set out to make a great Plex Android app.
We set out to make the most beautiful Android app, period.
When will it be released? This week. On Google Play. As a separate app, so you can run both side by side.
Will it be PlexPass only? Yes. Until it’s out of beta, at which point it will be available as a free upgrade for existing Plex for Android users. (Note that it does not, and will not, support Android versions earlier than 3.2). Also note that the PlexSync feature will always require a PlexPass.
Why 3.2? Because the Google TV runs 3.2, and we like the Google TV.
I have an Android 2.x device. Why do you hate me? At this point almost 90% of our users are running 4.0 or newer. We felt that requiring a modern version of Android was the best move for the app, and the vast majority of our user base.172 comments
It is the season for giving, and I just want to start by saying how much we appreciate all those who have become PlexPass members. Thank you so much. You literally keep the lights on, and keep us and our families (and dogs) fed. We’re excited and energized to head into 2013 with some huge plans (Could this btobiae the year we bring Trailers back? Bet on it!)
Before the year ends, though, we have a little present for you PlexPassians. A token of our appreciation, if you will. We’ve been working hard to bring it to you, because you’ve been asking for it for quite some time…
That’s right, we have a massive update for our desktop Plex app! It used to be Plex Media Center, but because of the sheer number of people who confused it for Plex Media Server (no, really), we’re rebranding it Plex Home Theater.
So what’s new? Well, we’ve re-synced to upstream XBMC code, to their “frodo” pre-release. But more than that, we’ve completely redone our integration so as to make future updates much, much easier. Our internal codename for the project was Fordo (because, let’s face it, a giant mountain with an impenetrable fortress inside sounds slightly more bad-ass than a little guy with hairy feet).
This brings us up to date with all the latest, which should finally resolve a number of long-standing issues, including A/V sync on SD files, high CPU usage when idle, and adds lots of cool stuff including:
- HD audio support, via the new AudioEngine code, on operating systems which support it.
- 10bit H.264 video
- Airplay support
- Much improved rendering efficiency (“dirty regions”)
- Many bug fixes to home screen, server detection
In typical Plex fashion, we’ve also disabled/removed a bunch of stuff too, in order to make it as lean and fast as possible. It’s not a toaster, microwave, or PVR. Our only interest is making it work as well as humanly possible with our media server.
I also want to point out in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS, that this is a PlexPass preview. It’s definitely pre-release quality. Frodo (the upstream code) hasn’t shipped yet. It’ll crash, and hang, and possibly even overwater your house plants. We’ll be updating it frequently, and when it’s ready to come out of the oven, we’ll release it for everyone.
So, a few important links: You can download the OS X and Windows releases here (yes, you need a PlexPass for this). You can help us figure out what needs fixing in the new release in this new forum (please read the “known issues” sticky). You can build from source yourself and pitch in (it’s so easy now!). (One nice little easter egg: the context menu now works on the home screen to mark an item as watched.)
Most importantly, though – please have yourself a meaningful and happy holiday season. Spend some time with people you love. Pet your children. Hug your dogs and cats. Time with family and friends is more important than presents or material items.
Namaste, and we’ll see you next year!
This release is brought to you by Gordon, our favorite Swedish Plex dog. Gordon’s dad Tobias led the Plex strike force who is behind this new release. Gordon is stoic (obviously), loves the snow, and enjoying curling up in front of a good movie. Barkley’s brother from another, roughly.