2014-05-05 10_18_05-XBMC 13.0 Gotham rises _ XBMC

XBMC started life as a hack for the original Xbox game console, but it has since evolved into a much-beloved open source home theater system on a number of platforms. After months of release candidates and betas, XBMC 13.0 (codename Gotham) is ready to download on Android (and other stuff).

2014-05-05 15.17.40

The new version brings a number of improvements, only some of which pertain directly to Android. The most relevant to our interests is the inclusion of hardware media decoding on ARM and x86 Android devices. That means you won't need to burn through your battery decoding media via software methods. The XBMC team also says performance has been improved on Android (and Raspberry Pi).

General updates in Gotham that you'll also see reflected on Android include improved UPnP, a better audio engine, and enhanced touchscreen gesture control. Check out the site for a detailed explanation of everything added in this version. XBMC is a standard APK, but it's not in Google Play. You'll have to grab it from the XBMC site and sideload it on your device. Just make sure you get the right version –ARM or x86.


Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Eduardo Mateos

    XBMC improvements are welcomed, but I think Plex has been overtaking them and are now miles away. Transcoding and Chromecast support are two good examples.

    But thanks XBMC team, I still rely on you for DVB broadcast of my VU+ device, but man, how I miss transcoding...

    • xsirxx

      Can I ask why you would need transcoding? All my files decode just fine through hardware on my little 30$ android stick all the way up to 1080p 5.1... Havent tried higher...

      • Eduardo Mateos

        Because I have my server at home and I often have to access my files on the go.

        • xsirxx

          I run all mine off my server at home without the need for transcoding. Are you saying you need the size smaller for on the go? Otherwise I just havent had a need for it when streaming from my server... Just trying to understand, seems interesting if maybe the is a problem/solution mixup.

          • Dave Sleep

            OK I need a better explanation on what you do, so maybe I can copy it. My server runs plex to pass a feed that will play on PS3 and ChromeCast. Native files don't play on theme (PS3 can't play mkv) Plex transcodes and passes a stream that PS3 can play. Same with ChromeCast

          • xsirxx

            Ahh ok. I use a MK808 android stick. That uses XBMC/Avia on the client side. It decodes everything with the Mali 400 GPU on hardware decoding that I know save for the exception of mpeg2(hardware). On the server side I use a different program but same idea. I have transcoding turned off for just about everything. I used to have to turn on transcoding when I used the 360 as a client, so I can get that if the client cant handle it(like MKVs and the PS3). Have you thought about just using a little 30$ android stick and have it jump to XBMC as soon as it boots?

            EDIT: My server software is TVersity btw.

          • Dave Sleep

            Already have 2 PS3 and a ChromeCast that all need transcoding so there isn't much point spending another $30 to do what I already can do with Plex for free. Also with plex a share to my in-laws without copying to USB or disk and I can stream to my tablet while I am at work. Plex automagiclly ;) knows which client needs transcoding and either does or doesn't transcode as needed.

          • xsirxx

            Hey free is always a good thing!

          • Dave Sleep

            Ahh, you are using TVersity. Plex and TVersity are basically interchangeable and Plex is free. TVersity doesn't really explain what it is on the website but what I remember it does exactly the same thing, Transcoding when the device can't play the media directly.

          • Eduardo Mateos

            If I want to play a movie on the go, I don't have the capabilities to stream a 20GB file, nor I have the tariff good enough for that 20GB download.

          • Brandon Fletcher

            Yeah, I'm in the same boat here, I don't understand the need for transcoding, XBMC literally plays everything you can throw at it. I don't have to have a client/app installed on my server, I just use Samba shares. Remote streaming configuration for XBMC isn't hard, either, I stream stuff to my friend's house all the time, and he lives in another city.

      • Dave Sleep

        Also not all of my files are supported on all of my devices. PS3 streaming, chromecast streaming.

    • Aborto

      Plex is great software, I have payed for it and used it quite a bit.
      It has a great interface and will allow smooth playback on a toaster, although I find it very inflexible and as a lot of my media isn't recognized by the Plex media scanner it is terrible for things like music videos, youtube downloads and random documentaries that aren't on TVDB.

      Plex transcoding loses a fair bit of video quality and requires a powerful CPU on the host. This is fine if you are hosting from your computer but if the files are on a NAS box then it is unlikely to have the power to transcode the files.

      XBMC requires powerful hardware for playback but it means the files can be stored anywhere, and the playback quality is better. It is also much more flexible, can easily list files from multiple servers/PC's and works happily with files that Plex doesn't recognize the names for.

      tl;dr Both programs are excellent but are designed for different things.

    • Al McDowall

      I'm also in the Plex camp. Anytime I tried XBMC I had real difficulty setting up folders the way I wanted. With Plex, I can tell it which folders (can be more than one) hold TV shows, which hold Movies etc. I can also make new categories (for example, I keep my 3D content separate from normal Movies) and Plex just keeps account of whatever I add.

      I know a lot of people love XBMC but for me, Plex is the solution that ticks all the boxes (even playing theme tunes when I choose a TV show). Not saying one is better than the other, but we all have our specific needs and Plex is the solution that suits me best.

  • xsirxx

    Anyone know if this version allows for standard android keyboard input? I love XBMC on my android stick but not being able to use my keyboard remote controls SUCKS. Thats really the last thing to making this thing awesome on android.

    • Theratchetnclank

      Use yatse to control it?

      • xsirxx

        huh weird, never heard of that. Guess I have some research to do! But I would love the simple solution of being able to use a standard keyboard.

        • primalxconvoy

          You can use a hardware keyboard no problem.

      • ddpacino

        Great app, but much prefer Plex's built-in remote. It's the little things that matter the most.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dominicmondello Dominic Mondello

    XBMC is great, and free. Can't complain. But imho, Plex is so much better. The android app is awesome, the Plex support for Chromecast is top-notch, Plex Home Theather is one of the best media center frontend I've seen.

    • ddpacino


    • primalxconvoy

      Ahh, but Plex doesn't also allow you to stream/download media content directly from online sources now, does it?

      • Dave Sleep

        not completely true. You can add channels that connect to some online sources. not sure which "content" you need but there are a few channels available

      • mobilemann
      • fredphoesh

        Seriously? So what's the point of it then??

  • GuidZilla

    If and when XBMC finds their way onto Roku I'll try it out for sure, until the Plex and the great support there has my support/money.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

      Roku's typically don't have the power to play most video files. Plex transcodes things so you don't need a powerful device to view the video. Instead you need a server to do the decode.

      • GuidZilla

        Totally... I think to have my cake and eat it too would be to have the look of xbmc, but the implementation of Plex.

        • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

          There is an XBMC addon to use with plex servers if you want. PleXBMC. Then again you need to be able to install XBMC

  • jup68

    Don't forget about Mediabrowser http://mediabrowser3.com/


    Will there ever be local hardware decoding so that I can have audio on MKV files from XBMC to my Chromecast via Allcast?

    • Randroid

      Pretty sure that's EXACTLY what this article is stating...

      "...hardware media decoding on ARM and x86 Android devices."

      • TOMMMMMM

        Sadly I don't get any sound via Allcast

  • John Max

    Plex is nice but it's definitely not better than XBMC. XBMC's Dlna(airplay) feature makes the cut in my opinion. It works very well with iphone and even better with android. Its totally customisable and there's a lot of improvements in the bag of devs i am sure even tough it works almost flawlessly.

    • ddpacino

      Tested side by side, and I'd have to argue. I much prefer Plex over XBMC -- for my own usage case, clearly. It's drop dead gorgeous and really "just works" for me.

    • mobilemann

      plex support DLNA as a server, and their own version of airplay called all cast, and chromecast support (as well as official airplay on iOS)

      I've used both, Plex is for my use, clearly superior.

  • Michael

    XBMC is awesome but their on screen non qwerty keyboard layout is nerve wrecking to use.

    • Chris

      It's absolutely atrocious.

    • atlouiedog

      Agreed. Fortunately my Photon Q's hardware keyboard with Yatse works pretty well. I think I'll keep it around as an XBMC remote on my coffee table when I upgrade.

    • Franco Rossel

      Change the skin.

  • Brie

    Tried to install this on my Sony NSZGS8, Arm version. Will not install >:(

  • Matias Manchoulas

    i have a nexus 7 20012, wich version version (arm/x86) work for me?

    • CoreRooted


    • xsirxx


    • Matias Manchoulas


  • dude

    That took a while. I've used a hardware decoding test build from over a year ago. This is vital to stream 1080p over the network smoothly, which is useful for Ouya and Android TV Box. Without the hardware decoding streaming HD over the network could be laggy especially on older hardware.

  • Kenneth

    I have a Q7 android box, someone can tell me which version is good for me Arm or x86 pls?

  • KFR42

    I have used plex, but I still return to xbmc every time. The channel selection is better on xbmc. I don't have a pc on all the time, so I stream from online services. Most of the unofficial plex channels for stuff like icefilms simply don't work 99% of the time. For a user like me xbmc is infinitely better.

  • djagal

    I just wish xbmc worked on ps3, it would change the lives of millions.