Plex needs no introduction for Mac users movie and TV fans . We saw the old school born back in 2007, the same year the original Apple TV was released, and many of us have continued to rely on it throughout this time to keep our collection of multimedia content organized and compensate for our poor memory with its ability to remember what we’ve seen and what we haven’t.
In these eight years, Plex has been evolving, expanding to many platforms, from iOS to Roku or Android TV, but Apple TV insisted on playing cat and mouse with it . The first version did not support any app beyond those of Apple; the second generation, released in 2010, did jailbreak through, and Plex went on to have its own unofficial app; three years later a way to run “channels” of their own was discovered through a trick that did not require jailbreak, and there was also Plex.
“We can assure you there is no other platform we’ve wanted to be on for longer than Apple TV”
Since then, rumors that Apple would open its platform to third parties with an app store have been the constant at every developer conference, but it was not until just six weeks ago that this wish was realized. Six weeks, and that’s all it took for the guys at Plex to launch the first version of their first app for Apple TV that doesn’t have to resort to tricks or artifices to offer us something that by definition, we enjoy mostly from the comfort of our couch.
Six weeks (five actually), and this is what it looks like…
Beautiful, isn’t it? The Plex app for the fourth generation Apple TV combines the best of two worlds : the attractive design rich in animations and effects of tvOS with the capabilities of Plex to play virtually all video and audio formats out there and enrich our multimedia library with synopses, posters, tunes and all kinds of metadata (genre, director, cast, year…). A delight, which is also completely free .
The app still has some work ahead of it and some details like the preview of the scene in the timeline when we go forward or backward don’t work as well as they should, but the speed at which it starts playing any content even with a normal Wi-Fi connection makes up for it.
Searching with Siri is not supported either, but that ball is on Apple’s roof until further notice, and so far only a few developers have been able to integrate it into this first wave of apps. What does work are the voice play functions, such as “What did he say?” to go back 30 seconds in case we missed something.
Just a few months ago, Plex updated its app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch after a long period of silence. But here, too, the wait was worth it. Version 4.0 of the app is actually written from scratch for iOS 8.1 or higher and if you haven’t had a look at it for a while or have never tried it you’ll find that it’s loaded with improvements in addition to the new design:
- Advanced navigation with options to find related movies, from the same director or protagonist, with a couple of clicks
- Support for chapters to be able to quickly jump to the moment we are looking for a movie (and we don’t even have to do anything for it, the latest version of Plex Media Server already takes care of downloading everything we need from ChapterDb).
- Rotten Tomatoes scores.
- And for Plex Pass subscribers, a giant improvement in mobile synchronization function, much faster, more reliable, and now with playlist support as well. In addition, the iOS app hides a reduced version of the Media Server that allows us to continue using all the options for sorting, filtering and content related off-line to videos and songs downloaded to the phone or tablet.
You won’t have to wait too long to read our analysis of Apple TV , but from the start, the ability to run apps like Plex already makes it what we always expect.