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Kodi 18 Leia
The wait is over! Kodi 18 Leia has finally been released with features that make us even more ecstatic about the future of streaming:
Retroplayer gaming and associated game control support
One of the big features of this release: support for gaming emulators, ROMs, and controls. This is a significant topic in its own right, so look out for future posts on this, but suffice it to say at this time that you now have a whole world of retro gaming at your fingertips, all from the same interface as your movies, music and TV shows. For the genuine experience as well, we’ve also introduced support for joysticks, gamepads, and other platform-specific controls, so the games will work just as was intended.
Digital Rights Management decryption support
Early days in many ways, but this opens a whole new world of content for Kodi. Depending on your hardware and licensing, Kodi can now access external DRM handlers and then play subscription content just like any other local media. This is significant in a time when so many people are switching to protected streaming content; there are already several add-ons available that make use of this functionality, and we genuinely hope that we’ll see support from other content providers in the future.
Music Library – new ways to explore and enjoy your music collection
Significant improvements including better filtering (media source, artist gender, type etc.); artist sort name; enhanced artwork; faster API access (particularly useful if you’re controlling Kodi by remote with the TV off). Creating and using the music library is even smoother than before. If you have never bothered to use the music library, or maybe never even used Kodi as a music player, then we encourage you to try this feature in Leia!
Live TV improvements, including support for new backends
Support for RDS (Radio Data System), automatic selection on startup (“boot to live TV/radio”, if you like), improved OSD and PVR information, enhanced EPG and PVR actions, and many more. Back end support has been updated across the board, with new support for Zattoo, Teleboy, and Sledovanitv.cz.
Binary addon support and the binary addon repository
While we’ve actually been using platform-specific binary add-ons for some time – think PVR addons and screensavers – there’s been a lot of work to expand this functionality and move to a more modular architecture as a result. This has effectively halved the main Kodi installer in size, as you now have the option to install some of these functions as you need them instead of them coming pre-bundled. The architecture also now opens the door for other types of pre-compiled binaries, perhaps to provide access to different media sources. The binary repository is currently available for Android, OSX, and Windows; Linux users will still have to use the PPA, while iOS and UWP will continue to include the binary add-ons in the installer because of platform limitations.
Android Leanback and voice control
Kodi can now show its library contents on the main Android TV interface, with full voice functionality: unwatched random movies and unlistened-to albums, binge watch suggestions, and more. Voice integration allows you to search for content with Google Assistant, using the same feature for “voice typing” wherever you see the traditional Kodi on-screen keyboard.
Playback improvements (audio and video), including improved Blu-ray support
The video player is core to so much of what Kodi does, and some significant changes have been made to the architecture to ensure we’re better able to cope with 4K, 8K, HDR and similar, as well as keeping up with the variety of CODECs out there. Changes have been made to priority, to ensure that video gets the most attention from the CPU/GPU for smoothest-possible playback. Elements have been moved out into binary add-ons, so components can potentially be updated outside of the main Kodi code base.
We’ve also improved Blu-ray support in terms of disc detection and metadata, BD-J menu support (subject to Java support on the device), there are updated external interfaces for e.g. MPEG DASH and RTMP input, and there are improvements to 3d playback (including in 2D mode) and various changes to specific CODECs.
On the audio side, there’s a wealth of improvements and new support for all types of playback system: ALSA, PulseAudio, OSS, Pi Audio, DirectSound, WASAPI, Darwin, SndIO
“Estuary” skin modifications and changes to the GUI/skinning engine
Many of the other changes listed here have an obvious ripple effect on the Kodi interface, so we’ve made the change to support these: the gaming modules and associated libraries and the PVR changes, for example. We’ve also updated keyboard layouts for more languages, updated image resources, changed API calls, improved response times with optimizations for e.g. scaling and redrawing.
Revised codebase and build guides
Starting with this release, our build guides are kept up-to-date against the current code base – current, as in (hopefully!) up-to-date against a single pull request or code commit. That means that we no longer need to maintain How-Tos and standalone guides, and you will be able to reliably find a build guide for any point in time, even retrospectively.
As a multi-platform application, Kodi inevitably has to be updated in different ways for different operating systems, whether that’s simply to keep up or whether it’s to unlock new functionality. Android gets API bumps, speech-to-text, SD card support, among other things; BSD gets all-around improved support, especially on the video (VAAPI/VDPAU) side; Linux gets DRM, Mir/Wayland support, numerous video improvements, and build system changes; iOS gets support for iOS 10, improved VTB decoder support, and general improvements on arm64; and Windows finally gets 64-bit binaries, along with improved UWP compilation, enhancements to image rendering, and another slew of general platform-specific improvements to how we handle libraries and APIs.
… And Other Things
Of course, there have also been a huge number of other changes, some of which will be invisible to very many users. Bluetooth support, CMake build system, visualizations and screensavers, improvements to the JSON-RPC API, improved code stability, performance. and security (as well as general code clean-up in many core areas), remote control changes, web interface changes, logging changes, dependency changes… the list goes on. Do take a look at the changelog and detailed commit history (below) if you’re really interested in looking behind the curtain!