The developers of the open source, cross-platform XBMC media center application have offered an Android version for more than 2 years. But if you want to install XBMC on your Android phone, tablet, or TV box you’ll need to download it directly from the XBMC website because it’s not available from the Google Play Store or other app stores.

Now there’s an easier way to install the media center app and keep it up to date: XBMC developer Chris Browet has released a fork of XBMC called SPMC. It’s now available for free from the Google Play Store and Amazon Appstore.

spmc

SPMC is basically XBMC with a different name and a few tweaks.

The latest version is based on XBMC 13.2, features support for suspend on devices that have been rooted, and lets you bring up a context menu by long-clicking the left button on a mouse.

Since the app is offered through the Play Store and Amazon Appstores, Browet can push updates to users without requiring you to re-download and re-install the app. But as CNX-Software notes, there’s another way to install XBMC and make sure it’ sup to date. There’s an Android app called XBMC Updater lets you know when there’s a new version and lets you install the latest nightly or stable releases easily.

Update: Wondering why the official version of XBMC isn’t already in the Play Store? XBMC Team member Ned Scott provides some information in the comments below.

The short version is that there are two reasons: The team is waiting until version 14.0 when the name will be changed to Kodi, and the developers weren’t sure if Google would take issue with an app that includes Dolby Digital and DTS audio decoding but which doesn’t pay a licensing fee.

Submitting SPMC first and waiting to see if it’s removed by Google is a way to use the app as a bit of a canary in the coal mine… although the continued existing of VLC media player in the Play Store suggests that companies might not be going after free and open source software that uses unlicensed DD and DTS decoding.

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8 replies on “SPMC brings forked version of XBMC to the Google Play Store, Android Appstore”

  1. it would be cool to set this as your launcher. i have an old tablet that would work great as a portable media player

  2. And why is this version in the App Store and the mainline version isn’t? That is the first and biggest question a reader would naturally ask. And it isn’t answered. Whats up with that?

    A few minutes of Google seems to answer the question; it is patents. They can’t even give it away without the trolls wanting money. The same reason that prevents US based Linux distros from including the full multimedia codec set. So I’d guess that this forked version omits software decoding. Apparently scammers have been selling unofficial versions in the App Store so one of the devels put this one out at $0 in an attempt to put an end to the practice.

    1. Hi, I’m Ned Scott from Team XBMC/Kodi. Two big reasons, one was that we had a pending name change and we didn’t want to submit to Google Play until that was done. We thought it was going to happen “soon”, but the name change stuff took a lot longer than we thought.

      The second big reason was that we’re unsure if Google will get a takedown notice because the software decodes DD and DTS audio. Semi-recently there was a big app store purge of video players that decoded DD and DTS, but didn’t pay a licensing fee on it. The unofficial rumor is that the companies behind the audio formats typically don’t go after free/opensource apps, and they just look the other way, but then the XBMC for OUYA store version got a takedown notice. However, that version was supplied by OUYA, who isn’t a non-profit group, so maybe they saw it as an opportunity to get DD and DTS licensing on all of those OUYA units out there.

      At the same time, VLC is still on Google Play and has DTS and DD software decoding.

      There were some lesser reasons as well, such as just figuring out what needed to happen in our build system in order to create a split APK, since Google requires you to split the download when the app is above 50MBs.

      Anyways, Koying (Chris) proposed that he give it a try himself before XBMC/Kodi does, just to see what happens. Since his test fork already had a different name he could do it at any time, as well.

      If all goes well then “Kodi v14” will most likely be on Google Play officially.

      1. Thanks for the extra details! I’ve updated the post with some of this info for folks who don’t make it all the way down to the comments section.

  3. What happened to the other entirely more forgettable name that I happen to have already forgotten?
    Sorry XBMC folks, forgettable name is forgettable.

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