XBMC gains stereoscopic 3D support, Android hardware decoding

XBMC

After a relatively short two-month period in beta, Team XBMC has released XBMC 13.0 FINAL. Codenamed "Gotham", XBMC 13 is packed full of new features and improvements across all platforms.

The open-source cross-platform media powerhouse gains support for Android hardware decoding, and stereoscopic 3D rendering, plus promises improved touchscreen support, UPnP capabilities and a radically reworked audio engine.

The headline new feature for movie buffs will be XBMC 13’s support for a number of passive 3D movie formats: SBS, TAB, anaglyph and interlaced. Note that hardware support for FullSBS/TAB movies has not yet been implemented, while 3D bluray support is also missing from this initial implementation.

XBMC’s support for Android-powered hardware sees version 13 ship with significant speed improvements for both Android and low-powered Raspberry Pi devices. Also added is support for Android hardware decoding on both x86 and ARM platforms.

Those with touchscreens can now navigate via a series of swipes, plus use gestures to control playback. Improved UPnP capabilities now allow different XBMC devices on the same network speak to each other as well as work with more UPnP devices. Also added are library browsing from different devices, allowing users to use their tablet or phone to browse the UPnP library and send a video direct to another device.

Version 13 also dramatically reworks the audio engine first implemented in the previous "Frodo" release. Team XBMC promises it to be simpler, more reliable, faster and better quality, although some users will have to reconfigure their audio settings first.

XBMC 13 also makes accessing and tweaking settings much easier thanks to a more intuitive and beginner-friendly approach. Settings now sit behind four layers of complexity, from beginner up to advanced, with users able to switch between them to reveal or hide features.

When browsing settings using the default Confluence skin, users will also find each one now comes with a description to help identify it. A new Reset to Default option for each settings screen makes it easier to experiment and revert subsets of settings without losing all other changes.

Other changes in version 13 include improving the Subtitle Search tool. There’s also an extended Python and JSON-RPC API for developers that Team XBMC envisages leading to even more powerful add-ons being developed.

FFMPEG has also been updated to version 1.2 for audio and video playback, while stereo audio can now be upmixed to 5.1 and sent through optical/SPDIF devices amid various other improvements. One final change sees support for Windows XP finally dropped.

The new release has been joined by a major update to the iOS remote control app, XBMC Remote 1.5.1. Among other new features is support for controlling live TV along with access to the EPG and PVR features. Users can also gain direct access to settings in XBMC 13 from the app.

XBMC 13.0 FINAL is available now as a free open-source download for Windows, OS X, Linux, Android and Raspberry Pi. Mobile users can control XBMC remotely using XBMC Remote 1.5.1 for iPhone and iPad, and XBMC Remote for Android 1.0.9.

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