- Kodi 18.0 was released today, an upgrade two years in the making.
- The new version features a DRM decryption tool, allowing you to stream media content from third-parties within Kodi.
- Kodi 18.0 also features an upgraded music player, support for game emulators, and Android Leanback and voice controls.
Today, Kodi 18.0 is finally live and available to all. The update — two years in the making — brings a bevy of new features to give users total control over their media library. It also, notably, officially allows you access to libraries you don’t control.
The biggest new feature of Kodi 18.0 — which was codenamed “Leia” — is a new DRM decryption tool. Using this, a Kodi user can connect a protected streaming service to their Kodi interface and then access that content without having to leave Kodi.
In other words, you can consume media content from a provider you legally pay for — something like Netflix, for example — without having to swap to your Netflix app. You can do it all right in Kodi.
You might be thinking that this new tool sounds legally dubious, and you’re sort of right. According to the Kodi team itself, they had “a hard time figuring out if being able to play DRMed content in this way would be considered unethical.” That quote is from a 2017 blog post penned by Kodi developer “h.udo,” when work on version 18.0 was just beginning.
While there’s nothing patently illegal about streaming content from Netflix, HBO, Amazon, or other media companies in this way, it’s a sure bet that the companies would rather you didn’t. Media streaming networks prefer to have control over how you view their content, and there’s no evidence to suggest any of the major platforms condone this usage.
However, the Kodi development team has always danced on the thin line between legal and illegal, so this new tool isn’t too surprising.
It should be noted that Plex — Kodi’s main competitor in the streaming space — is rumored to be considering a similar feature. However, it appears Plex is going the decidedly ethical route of working with streaming platforms directly, as it did with music streaming service Tidal.
These new Kodi features make the service even more powerful than it already is.
The latest version of Kodi also introduces support for gaming emulators, ROMs, and controls. This will surely be a welcome addition for folks who love to play retro games and haven’t already integrated their libraries with something like RetroArch or Launchbox.
Kodi 18.0 also introduces new music player upgrades (including the ability to sort by an artist’s gender, for some reason), live TV improvements, and Android Leanback and voice controls.
That last one is pretty cool because it allows you to use Google Assistant to control Kodi within an Android TV environment. For example, you could launch Kodi using Google Assistant and then use your voice to “type” into search bars and text boxes within Kodi.
You can see all the latest changes to Kodi 18.0 on its changelog here.