The latest experimental builds of XBMC for Android offer improved playback of high definition video on most Android phones, tablets, and set-top-boxes. When the developers of XBMC launched their first pre-release builds for Android, the software was only optimized for devices featuring Amlogic AM8726 processors. But there are new experimental builds which support some of the chips commonly found in modern Android devices.
That means you should now be able to watch 720p and 1080p HD video on a wider range of devices that have graphics chips capable of handling the heavy lifting in HD video playback.
According to software developer Ricardo Cerqueira, that includes devices with Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, TI OMAP 4, Samsung Exynos 4, and NVIDIA Tegra 3 chips. Or to put it another way, devices with Adreno 225, PowerVR SGX 540, Mali 400, and Tegra 3 graphics.
You’ll want to download and install a test build marked “hwaccel” from January 18th or later from XBMC in order to test out the latest features on your device. I took a recent build for a spin on my HTC One X with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual core processor, and had no problems playing HD video stored on my device, streaming from a shared network drive, or streaming over the internet.
Your results may vary – these are still test builds which may be buggy and which may not work on all devices.
It’s probably a bit late in the article for this, but XBMC is a media center application which was originally designed to turn the Xbox game console into a media hub for your TV. Over the past few years it’s been ported to run on a range of devices and operating systems, and in addition to offering a user interface that lets you access media on a big TV screen, there are touchscreen-friendly skins optimized for phones, tablets, and other devices.
You can use XBMC to play music, movies, and view photos on a hard drive or on your home network. But you can also use dozens of plugins to access online media from sites including Amazon, Hulu, Grooveshark, NPR, Flickr, Picasa, and more.
In June, 2012, developers started porting XBMC to run on Android. But initially support was only officially available for a single device with a single chipset. Since then, we’ve seen the software ported to run on many other devices — but without support for hardware-accelerated graphics.
Recently independent developers have designed some workarounds for this, allowing XBMC to launch external third party video players that do support hardware-accelerated video playback. But now that the main branch of XBMC is starting to add better support for HD video, those workarounds may not be necessary for much longer.