XBMC has released an exciting new beta version of their media center software. XBMC 13.0, codenamed “Gotham” has been a year in the making and addresses their number one user request – Android hardware decoding. That’s right folks, the official XBMC player for Android 4.0 and higher now has native playback capabilities and is available for the ARM or x86 architecture.
XBMC is a media center/player system that started off on the XBox and blossomed from there. It operates as a UPNP service to serve media, and can play media from other UPNP servers as well as its own. Other services have sprung out of of XBMC, such as the popular Plex media center. The one big piece that has been missing is an official dedicate Android player.
XBMC wants to be certain that you know this is beta software, to expect bugs and crashes. Although I experienced a few of both the bugs and the crashes on my Nexus 7, it was just some minor polish items like menu animations and placement of on-screen controls. The overall playback experience was consistent between low res and full HD videos of various formats. HD video looked great, played smooth and only ate up just over 2% of my battery in 15 minutes of playback.
For HTPC users, there are many updates to XBMC 13.0 “Gotham” – most notable is the information explaining what each setting is and tiered settings into beginner/advanced sections. There are a ton of other enhancements, including support for the Raspberry Pi, check them all out here.
Download your copy of XBMC 13 “Gotham” beta from their website and let us know what you think. And before anyone asks, there is no evidence of Chromecast support.
How do you use Android in your media center? Do you host your files locally or use a cloud service?