Plex kills off plugins; introduces new subtitle search feature

Plex today introduced a new feature that seeks to make life easier for those who rely and utilize subtitles but hate the effort to fetch them for their content. At the moment, the feature is only available to Plex Pass Preview users, allowing them to browse through a list of suggested subtitles for their content right from the Plex client.

In its blog post, the company says it’s using “all sorts of smarts” to find the best matches in various languages – the search is not limited to English, as Plex notes that half of its userbase resides outside the U.S. There’s also a preference that viewers can toggle to highlight subtitles catering to the deaf or hard-of-hearing.

The new subtitle search, interestingly, does not rely on the existing OpenSubtitiles metadata agent, per Plex. Downloaded subtitles are not user-accessible as well, as the Plex server stores them in a blob database. The feature is described in detail within the company’s support articles.

Improvements for the Offline Sync feature, the new Android player engine, and the music player experience, are also coming along nicely.

Setting the new feature and improvements aside, Plex also announced that it will be retiring a few of its old and forgotten features; Plugins, Watch Later, and Cloud Sync won’t be sticking around for long. Plex Cloud’s retirement was announced earlier this month as well.

Although the idea of removing features can often be perplexing, per Plex, the decision wasn’t taken lightly:

We didn't approach the process lightly; we looked over usage numbers and took into account maintenance costs and general customer satisfaction. In some cases, we have plans for a future in which a better replacement shows up. Other things, we’re just stabbing in the chest repeatedly with a wooden stake (and hoping it’s not a zombie). But the philosophy is the same—we want to focus our finite energy on providing awesome functionality that works great and makes the folks who use it happy.

Plugins appear to be deprecated rather than completely removed; while the Plugin Directory will be removed, users will still be able to manually install plugins “for the foreseeable future.” Though, the company notes that less than 2% of its users use that feature.

The new subtitle search feature is available for the Xbox One client, the Plex Media Player, Android TV, Plex’s mobile Android client, LG TVs with webOS 3 or above, as well as the Plex Web App. Plex says it’s working on bringing it to iOS and Apple TV soon. It might be a while until the new feature shows up for all Plex users, but whenever it does arrive, a few long-trusted features will likely deserve a goodbye.

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