XBMC started life as a hack for the Xbox. It was an open source tool for watching videos on early versions of the console before it was supported natively.
The app took on a life of its own, eventually finding its way to Android. It is now available for Android phones and tablets, and is also a great option for using on an Android TV device.
Until very recently the only way to install XBMC on Android was to sideload the app. Now, it has been rebranded as Kodi, and is officially available through the Play Store. Alas, it isn’t available in the Amazon Appstore, so you won’t be able to use it with Amazon’s growing range of TV gadgets.
An interface for TV
The UI for Kodi is designed to be used on a TV, which means if you’re using it on a mobile device, and a phone especially, you’ll find the buttons and controls to be somewhat less than convenient.
Which is not to say it isn’t usable on a smaller device, and the benefits of the software cannot be replicated elsewhere.
These benefits include the massive range of add-ons for the platform. Kodi comes without any content of its own, so you need to add your own sources. These come in the form of add-ons — tiny apps that install into the software and open up access to various online streaming services.
As open source software, there’s a massive community of enthusiasts constantly building add-ons with new features and bringing new content.
These include an unofficial Netflix add-on called NetfliXBMC, as well as those for YouTube and TuneIn Radio. There are also a swathe of add-ons that provide access to content that you’ll find streamed around the web, including live sports.
SportsDevil is regarded as the best Kodi add-on for streaming live sports, however since its legal status is questionable we won’t link to it here.
How to install Kodi add-ons
We’ll look at the process for installing add-ons in Kodi or XBMC in a more detailed future post. The process is fairly straightforward, but it does require manual intervention.
The app Addon Installer is a good starting point. This helps to simplify the process of installing many add-ons, and also checks for updates so you can always ensure you’ve got the latest version.
For manual installation, add-ons are downloaded as zip files. In Kodi, go to Settings > Add-ons > Install from zip file. Locate the file you downloaded and select it. It will now begin installing.
When done you’ll see a message saying Add-on enabled. You can now launch the add-on, and its corresponding service, by going to Videos > Add-ons > [the service].
Remember that if you’re using a subscription service you will need to have your username and password to hand in order to use it in Kodi.
A great media player
Kodi is one of the best apps you can get for Android, and helps you get media services from all around the web onto your tablet or Android TV. Now that the app has moved into the Play Store it has become even more accessible, and although can still be a little fiddly at times, requires less tech know-how that it previously did.
Do you use Kodi on your Android device? What other favourite Android media players do you use? Let us know in the comments below.
Image credit: TV via flash.pro