Archive for the 'Tease' Category
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
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.303 comments
OK, we have a bit of a trilogy for you. A trinity of blog posts, if you will…
This is the first part, in which we release a new version of the Plex Media Server, fixing a number of issues, and adding a few tasty nuggets.
- NEW: Support for [big surprise] (explained in part 2).
- NEW: Mega-awesome [big surprise] (shown off in part 3).
- NEW: Added new (advanced) preferences for enabling/disabling Bonjour/GDM.
- NEW: (API) Support for JSON in non-channel endpoints.
- NEW: (API) WebSocket support for sending events to clients.
- FIX: Plex Media Scanner would occasionally crash on exit.
- FIX: Large reduction in memory/threads usage.
- FIX: Fix for missing posters when top agent failed.
- FIX: MP4 files with chapter tracks were analyzed as having subtitles.
- FIX: Some files (mostly WMV3) could fail to get framerate analyzed.
- FIX: Make sure photo agents get hit to refresh when scanning.
- FIX: Always send myPlex username when doing network logging.
- FIX: (Windows) Crash when analyzing some TS files.
- FIX: Be more lenient when parsing URIs which end in & or ?.
- FIX: (DLNA) Minor fix to Samsung profile.
- FIX: (Windows) Transcoder can handle RTMP now.
- FIX: (Linux) ReadyNAS ARM builds working again.
- FIX: (API) Fixes to preference serialization.
- FIX: (API) Fix for paging where some items were (partially) missing (and 10% speedup).
- FIX: (API) Signing into myPlex with ‘+’ signs in email/password was broken.
All this time, while we were working hard, Barkley was enjoying our new living room chair. We just sold our couch, so there’s literally nowhere to sit except for this chair, and he’s claimed it.