Media

Grab the popcorn: Popular media player XBMC heads to Android

Media geeks have long looked to the open source media player XBMC when setting up their home theater PCs, but soon anyone with an Android device will be able to enjoy all of XBMC’s features.

The XBMC Foundation, the technology consortium behind the media player, announced the official Android version of the media player today, which will include all of the capabilities of the XBMC desktop versions. The group hasn’t fully tested the app enough to say which devices it’ll be compatible with, but the goal is to get it running on a multitude of Android smartphones, tablets, and set-top boxes.

XBMC has risen in popularity because of its clean and customizable interface, as well as its ability to easily play videos from local storage and network shares. The project originally started out as a media center hack for the original Xbox, but it has since been ported to Windows, Mac, and other platforms. XBMC also serves as the core technology behind apps like Boxee and Plex.

The group has already released a XBMC Remote app for Android, but that relies on an existing XBMC server to function. The app announced today will instead be the “real deal,” the XBMC folks say.

While it’ll certainly be nice to have the full power of XBMC on tablets and smartphones, the real killer app for the media player will be on Android set-top boxes, especially Google TV. It’ll be the single easiest way to bring XBMC to your living room, and for media geeks it will give them full access to the media in their homes.

The XBMC folks say that the app works well enough to decode video and audio with software, but hardware accelerated decoding is still being worked on. The one exception is the Pivos XIOS DS, which the app was developed on (Pivos also helped sponsor development of the port).

Only the source code for the app is available now, but XBMC will soon make available beta versions of the app for testers. The group is keeping the app off Google Play for now (at least until hardware decoding is available for more devices).

“As for taking advantage of Android itself, we haven’t even scratched the surface,” wrote XBMC contributor theuni. “There are so many interesting features that we could take advantage of: launching apps, location awareness, speech recognition, on and on. Once the core port is finished up, you can bet we’ll be exploring many new avenues.”

Check out a video of the app in action below:

Via The Verge