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Kodi v18 "Leia" alpha 1 available to download, adds DRM content support
by Paul Bass
Today the Kodi team has released the first alpha of the software's next big update, v18 "Leia", which started development in late 2016, even before v17 "Krypton" had been released as final. With v17, we saw Kodi come to the Microsoft Store, and at the end of 2017 it become available on Xbox One, bringing it back to the Xbox platform.
Kodi v18 is focused on stability and usability with huge rewrites of the code to achieve this. Kodi first started out as a enthusiasts media player for the original Xbox, and has since been developed to work across almost every major operating system available including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and more.
With v18, DRM support is being included for the first time. XBMC Foundation President Nathan Betzen hopes that by adding support for "low-level DRM", it will provide an incentive for legitimate content providers to offer their videos "in a protected environment". It is important to note that DRM support does not remove any existing functionality of content playback, but is instead an additional feature.
Here are some of the new features in Kodi v18 alpha 1 highlighted in the release blog post:
In addition to the above improvements, the Kodi team has also highlighted that they have made more than 6140 code chunk changes, more than 1911 pull-requests (collection of commits that were included in one go), changed more than 7776 files, removed more than 350,000 and added more than 397,000 lines of code.
If you wish to try it out, the downloads are available here. However, as this is an alpha release, you may want to avoid installing it on your main Kodi system.
Source: Kodi Blog, Kodi Wiki
Kodi is now available for Xbox One, but as a work in progress
by John Keefer
Kodi has finally come full circle. The popular open-source media player is again available for Xbox, but this time the newer Xbox One through the Universal Windows Platform.
Developers XBMC offered up the good news in a blog post, explaining that while the app was now available worldwide, there were still some features that needed to be added and bugs squashed. Those that have used the player on different devices will get the same look and feel in the UWP version on Xbox One, but with some limitations:
For those unfamiliar with Kodi's history, it started as the Xbox Media Center on the original Xbox, although not an official Microsoft product. The player was eventually developed for other platforms, with the Xbox version suffering as the device obsolete. In 2010, they stopped development on the Xbox version, as technical hurdles made it harder to develop for Xbox 360, and by 2014, renamed XBMC to Kodi.
However, when Microsoft adopted UWP for Windows 10, there was new hope. With some help from outside developers, the Kodi team created a Win32 version that did very well on what was then the Windows Store. The popularity offered hope that a 64-bit Kodi could work if they figured out how to do it. Here's a little bit on why:
Work on the UWP version was being done in conjunction with the 64-bit version, although few on the team were aware of it. With help from Microsoft, the infant UWP version was born in July. By November, UWP code was merged into the master Kodi code, with the end result finally appearing in the Microsoft Store today. Converting from 32-bit to UWP is a feat few companies have been able to accomplish, especially in such a short amount of time.
While Xbox One users will be happy that Kodi has returned as a media option, the difficult conversion to UWP means that any Windows 10 device will be able to use it as well, including Windows phones, Surface Hub, and even HoloLens.
While Kodi may be popular, some of that popularity is for the wrong reasons, as it has become a preferred app for pirates using nefarious third-party add-ons to get the media player to stream copyrighted material illegally. The company has implemented a low-grade DRM to try to deter piracy.
By Rich Woods
Kodi defends the prospect of using DRM in its app to deter piracy
by Rich Woods
Two weeks ago, XBMC Foundation President Nathan Betzen said that the company is considering adding support for "low-level DRM" in its Kodi application. On the Kodi blog, the firm has reiterated and expanded on this prospect, although it's still not making a final decision.
The reason that XBMC is thinking about adding DRM (Digital Rights Management) support is because Kodi has found itself in a tough spot. Add-ons that are specifically designed for piracy have become increasingly popular, and the media center platform is becoming known to the layman as something that's illegitimate.
And that's something that the XBMC Foundation wants to fix. In one example, it says that, "Android ships with software that plays back DRMed content from Netflix. Kodi could hook into this already existing software in Android to playback the same content, so you never have to leave Kodi."
A major point in the blog post is that DRM is nothing to be upset about. It's meant to provide additional functionality to the app, rather than take it away. The Foundation is simply hoping that this additional feature-set will promote legitimate use of Kodi.
The team also made four promises:
The point that's really being made here is that you needn't worry about being restricted in your usage of Kodi. As Nathan Betzen pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the software is open-source, meaning that even if XBMC attempted to place some controls on it, that could easily be subverted by the open-source community.
Still, the team is deciding whether allowing the playback of DRMed content "would be considered unethical". There are still discussions going on internally, and it seems like it will be a little while before a decision is made.
By Rich Woods
Kodi is considering adding support for DRM to defeat piracy
by Rich Woods
Over the last couple of years, Kodi has gained popularity as a tool for piracy, and as you might expect, the XBMC Foundation doesn't care for it very much. The company has already begun going after sellers of set-top boxes that come pre-loaded with the app and unauthorized add-ons, but it's considering another strategy to defeat pirates: DRM support.
XBMC Foundation President Nathan Betzen hopes that by adding support for "low-level DRM", it will provide an incentive for legitimate content providers to offer their videos "in a protected environment".
If you're not familiar with Kodi, it's an open-source media player app with support for third-party add-ons. A number of add-ons have been developed as a means for piracy, and not only does Team Kodi not like it, but rights-holders have approached the team about it, and some of them aren't so understanding that this isn't the intended use of the app.
Betzen explains that removing support for installing third-party add-ons from repos wouldn't be a solution, since Kodi is open-source and it can be easily modified. Blocking certain add-ons would be a tedious task as well, since the developers of them would simply modify their add-ons.
Ultimately, the XBMC Foundation is aiming to please copyright holders. It's hoping that by offering legitimate content through its Kodi application, there would be less incentive for users to resort to piracy.
Do you think that users will be less likely to access illegal content if legal content is readily available on the platform? Let us know in the comments.
By Rich Woods
Kodi is coming back to the Xbox as a UWP app
by Rich Woods
If you've been using Microsoft's gaming consoles for long enough, then you'll remember the Xbox Media Center, also known as XBMC. Over time, XBMC was ported to other platforms, stopped being supported on Xbox, and became Kodi.
While Kodi is a Win32 app for the Windows platform, it made its way to the Store by means of the Desktop App Converter, also known as Project Centennial. Of course, this limited its distribution to Windows 10 PCs.
Today, at Microsoft's Windows Developer Day event for the Creators Update, the company announced that the developers of Kodi have been so pleased with the Windows Store that they will be converting it to a full UWP app. This means that it will once again be available on Xbox, or more specifically, the Xbox One.
Kodi is free to everyone, and it's also open-source. This means that you'll be able to follow along with the development of the UWP app, and if you're a developer, you can even contribute to it. Microsoft didn't provide a timeframe for when Kodi will be coming to the Xbox One, or if it will be on Windows 10 Mobile as well.