Plex for Windows Phone - Plex Blog

Plex for Windows Phone

| 30 Mar 2012 | by 71 Comments

So I write this as a longtime iPhone user, who went to the Apple Store in Pasadena the day after it was released, and bought the original iPhone as a wedding present for my fiancé. I then spent the next three years borrowing it, since I was so glued to my desk, I didn’t see a need for owning a cell phone myself.

(Once the iPhone 4 came out, I couldn’t resist any longer, bought one immediately, and upgraded to the 4S when it came out, mostly for the improved camera. Love it.)

Android phones never managed to capture my interest. They just looked and felt like bad photocopies of the iPhone, and didn’t offer anything new I was interested in, like the ability to install a custom theme that looked even uglier than the default, or download torrents on my phone, or play a Matrix animation in the background, or remove my battery, or spend time killing random processes, or over-clock my CPU, or any other beardy sort of thing. (Seriously, if I could remove my battery, I would misplace it in less than five minutes.)

When Windows Phone 7 was released, I was intrigued by the design and typography, but I didn’t get to play with it until my brother bought one and raved about it. My initial impression (this was pre-Mango) was lukewarm, and I was obsessed with the iPhone at that point anyway, so I just went all fanboy on his ass and mostly ignored it.

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Fast-forward to this January, I ordered a second hand Samsung device to help with development, and promptly fell in love with it. Why? Let me count the ways: First of all, it was new and different. As much as Android felt like (poorly) recycled ideas and bad new ones, Windows Phone felt original, well designed, and fun to use. The performance was great, really smooth in a way iOS is and Android isn’t even in ICS. The “pivot” and “panorama” UI concepts were fresh and a great way of making good use of a small screen in portrait mode. The typography was clean and brazen. The integration of Facebook and Twitter made them feel like first class citizens, not an afterthought. The live tiles on the home screen were a great way to make the phone feel alive.

Just as important, though, was how I felt going back to my iPhone after a week of using the Windows Phone almost exclusively: obviously the iPhone has a far better camera and much better photo software, and for that reason alone I wouldn’t abandon it. But the iPhone felt staid, for lack of a better word. I wanted to be able to pin a few email folders to my home screen and watch them update live. I wanted to see all my social updates in a more integrated way. I missed being able to go to a contact (which I could also pin to my home screen), and easily see the conversations (Facebook, or SMS) I was having with them, and recent photos they’d uploaded.

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My conclusion is a bit bifurcated: If you’re looking for a mobile device that’s not iOS, you should really check out Windows Phone, especially on the sexy new Nokia devices. And Apple, please integrate social services more closely, and do something cool with the home and lock screens, which are getting boring after 5 years.

Anyway, that was a really long tangent, which took almost as long to write as Plex for Windows Phone, which brings me to my next point. Platforms face two ways, towards the users, and towards the developers. The iOS development environment is quite good, with the weakest link being Objective-C, which has a steep learning curve and feels like it stepped out of the 80s with a cocaine hangover.

Android, oh, Android, I don’t mean to pick on you once again, but your edit-build-deploy cycle is long enough to make a grown man cry, and then stab himself in the eyeballs, and then cry some more. Java is fine, but the surrounding environment and piss-poor emulator makes it much harder to develop for than it should be.

So how is the Windows Phone development environment? It’s scary good. C# is a great language, .NET is a solid framework, XAML is a really nice way to design user interfaces, and the edit-build-deploy cycle is fast. It still has a bit of growing up to do, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding: we were able to write the app from start to finish in two months, between two engineers working part time, which is almost an order of magnitude faster than it took for the iOS and Android app. This sounds impossible, but trust me, it’s incredibly productive. (And as the last one out of the gate, it *needs* to be productive if the platform is to gain the apps it needs.)

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My last thought on Windows Phone is that it’s got all the ingredients it needs to be successful: It’s a fun, useful, well-designed platform, with sexy (Nokia) hardware, and it’s as good for developers as it is for users. It deserves much more marketshare than it has, and Microsoft seems to be making most of the right moves (about time). We’ll see how it all works out.

All that to say: Hey, Plex for Windows Phone 7 is now available in the App Store! (Well, it should be shortly, it says it’s live but apparently it takes a little while to actually show up.) Make sure you’re running the new 0.9.6 beta of the Plex Media Server, which includes Silverlight Smooth Streaming support.

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We hope you love it.

(OK, so I just *know* some smart alec is going to make a comment about “all twelve Windows Phone 7 users” really appreciating this release, and I should warn you: we know who you are, and any such commenter will find that Plex will start overlaying black bars over any videos with nudity. In the right places. No, really. It’s patent pending and we call it the deboobifier.)

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71 Comments so far

  1. @bogusjimmy March 31st, 2012 12:07 am

    Please destroy all research into the deboobifier!

    Also, I agree with most of your feelings towards WP7, it’s just a little too immature.

    And thanks for Plex and the continued innovation!

    From a Plex user with a Synology PMS and clients including OS X, iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android (XOOM), Samsung Smart TV, LG TV MediaLink, Roku, Apple TV and PS3 via DLNA.

  2. MichaelW March 31st, 2012 12:54 am

    There are actually 12 SP7 phone users already :) j/k

  3. Thomas March 31st, 2012 1:06 am

    Thamk you!

    Got both iOS and WP7 and I agree with everything you say. WP7 is a great product that will likely keep improving – and in some areas it is already way ahead of the competition. The WP7 Mac support is decent, too. Will be downloading the client ASAP.

  4. @dhausman March 31st, 2012 1:32 am

    ok, so you are not helping me out here. Many people consider me to have “phone problem”. I currently use an iPhone, and have used an android phone in the past. I was thinking about getting a galaxy nexus, but you are kinda making me want to try the new nokia stuff.

  5. jason March 31st, 2012 1:43 am

    Not showing up yet

  6. Ashish March 31st, 2012 1:44 am

    Can you share the link to download ? Cannot Find it in the market place.

  7. JumpingSquare March 31st, 2012 1:53 am

    I absolutely love my WP7, and this is coming from a previous iPhone/Android/Blackberry user. Yes, the OS is still being developed, with some things missing and a weak marketplace, but with apps like Plex coming, it just proves that WP7 deserves attention because it is by far the best OS I’ve ever used.

  8. rwanito March 31st, 2012 2:04 am

    Aaaaaawesome !

  9. Borderlands1 March 31st, 2012 3:46 am

    Elan, I still don’t see the app in the marketplace. Do you know if it will be coming out today or is there something else we have to do to install?

  10. Seth March 31st, 2012 4:16 am

    Can’t wait to see the app! Thanks you guys! It’s sad that MS can’t figure out how to effectively sell WP7 cause it has got a lot of charm. With great apps like this on board, though, the Zune marketplace is one step closer to being competitive with the iOS marketplace, which is great! Not because I want iOS to fail but because a competitive phone market is better for everyone!

  11. @LupoLoopy March 31st, 2012 4:21 am

    Great news! I’m really looking forward to this one guys. I appreciate that we’re (WP& users) are currently in the minority, but it’s Plex’s ability to stream to (nearly) all endpoints that has me raving to anyone who will listen to me about it, whatever IT ‘Tribe’ they’re a member of (OSX, Windows, Linux, Whatever’s cheapest/works). Kudos!

    (Now get to work on that parental control ;) )

  12. @LupoLoopy March 31st, 2012 4:25 am

    Also – is this a global release? There was a delay for us heathen European types with the Roku beta release. Should we expect a delay if we live outside of the United States?

  13. rjcassara March 31st, 2012 4:50 am

    Great post!
    One minor correction: Windows Phone apps are in the Marketplace, not App Store.
    Developing a WP7 app for a small portion of your users (I’m one of them) shows how awesome the Plex team is.
    Thanks for all your hard work!

  14. scott March 31st, 2012 4:58 am

    I’ve been waiting for this since I saw the CES release. I love Plex and I love my windows phone. I own it for iOS (ipods and ipads we have lying around the house) and the Android (for a tablet we have) and on a couple of Roku’s (love version 2!), so I truly happy this will complete all my devices being connected to Plex!

  15. plakna March 31st, 2012 5:40 am

    This looks awesome, although I don’t like Windows.

  16. Ark-kun March 31st, 2012 5:45 am

    Congratulations for releasing the app!
    I’m glad you’ve found Windows Phone fun to use and develop for. I always wanted to have a smartphone that I can run my own apps. I almost jumped the ship on a Windows Mobile, but was too reluctant. Now I have a Windows Phone and I’m very happy with it.
    The thing that I miss the most on iPhone is the absence of the back button. When the screen is all white while some part of the app is loading, I feel really claustrophobic seeing no way out.
    My wife has an iPod Touch, but bought HTC Radar as her first smartphone. She likes WP7 as a personal phone, while iPod complements it as a media player and a game/app device.


    Sent from my Windows Phone after learning about the Plex app from Twitter while reading the feeds in the People hub.

  17. MTI March 31st, 2012 6:10 am

    In your comparative review, you forgot to mention all the other little big things that IMHO place iOS several steps ahead, most importantly regular Apple-controlled OS-upgrades and AirPlay…

    So, great for the hopefully growing WPhone guys. But please, an updated/bug fix iOS release is what most people really want, I guess… :)

  18. Otto-Mate March 31st, 2012 7:07 am

    Damn that deboobifier!

  19. tiwahu March 31st, 2012 7:12 am

    Awesome. Got a direct “Marketplace” link?

    (Sent from my Windows Phone.)

  20. Jouva March 31st, 2012 7:46 am

    FYI they just fixed the Android emulator about a week or two ago so that it runs native as x86 code so that it’s not so slow.

  21. steve March 31st, 2012 8:02 am

    so excited. my nokia 900 was pre ordered yesterday and
    today i find i will not be suffering w/o plex.
    awesome days ahead. thank u.

    and i guess that makes me #13.

  22. kevin March 31st, 2012 8:03 am

    elan can you please share some of your drugs? obj-c bad. c#+.net good? is this bizarro world?

  23. eddman March 31st, 2012 8:27 am
  24. Yashendra Shukla March 31st, 2012 10:03 am

    Can you please provide the link for the download???

  25. elan March 31st, 2012 10:45 am

    @Jouva: I did see that, and I’m cautiously optimistic. Speed was one major issue, but multimedia (e.g. video playback) worked only sporadically in the emulator, so hopefully this update leaves us with a better emulator.

    @kevin: Ignoring the surrounding framework functionality (b/c yes, Core Animation et. al. are quite good, especially with blocks), I’m purely talking about the language. The fact that I still have to worry about memory corruption in the 21st century is just silly. In the past 2 years, Apple has made giant strides towards improving things, with GCD, blocks, ARC, and now with the syntactic sugar around literals and NSArrays. The fact that it’s improved so much in the last few years shows you how bad it’s been. I personally have high hopes that it becomes even more of a “managed” language in the future, with more syntactical and higher level improvements.

  26. elan March 31st, 2012 10:47 am

    There is no link to download, because it’s not live in the store yet. Everything on our side looks green, so we’re just waiting for Microsoft to actually make it live, something that supposedly can take a day or two.

  27. Smithcraft March 31st, 2012 12:18 pm

    While I generally feel the opposite way about iOS vs Android, I really agree about the modern Windows Phone environment. It is sooooo damn appealing!

    I’m glad to see that Plex will be available for what might be my next phone!

    SC

  28. Mattias Pettersson March 31st, 2012 12:19 pm

    I don’t get it. From my personal exprrience (which is limited but still)
    The eclipse IDE is fine. Imo the emulator is fine too. Slow but it works. It’s really easy and fast to testrun on my actual phone though. I highly recommend that.

    Is Eclipse really bad according to you or do you have a completely different experience with emulators?

  29. bmoura March 31st, 2012 1:58 pm

    Nice. Now, how about a Metro styled version of the Plex Media Client for Windows 8 ?

  30. elan March 31st, 2012 2:48 pm

    @MTI: Unless you own an Android device, of course, in which case an updated/bug fix Android release is what “most people” really want :) The good news is that there are updates coming soon for both those platforms.

    In terms of Apple-controlled OS-updates, I agree with you, and at least for a while, Microsoft appeared to be doing the right thing. Time will tell. AirPlay is nice, I agree, and I would assume nothing would prevent them from offering something similar that could push media to the Xbox360, if they cared to do so. (Presumably it could even be done right now via DLNA which can work as a type of AirPlay as well.)

  31. elan March 31st, 2012 6:33 pm
  32. Yashendra Shukla March 31st, 2012 6:42 pm

    @elan Thanks for the link, will download and review…

  33. Ian March 31st, 2012 7:35 pm

    I agree with a lot of this. But Android still does more. But you need to be a nerd to get it there.

    Having my phone re-configure itself when I get in the car and dock it is awesome. Having a nav solution that is not a complete JOKE (looking at you Bing Maps) is critical.

    I have an HD7. But I keep going back to my Android phone. It just does more, and elegance of the UI aside, it does it more efficiently.

  34. Ian March 31st, 2012 7:58 pm

    Welp. I just installed on my HD7. Server is up to date. Attempts to play movies results in the app going poof, I installed the TED channel and that throws an error upon attempting to stream. Not quite there. :-)

    I’m wifi only on this device. SIM is in the Sensation.

    Looking forward to this maturing. Plex is awesome.

  35. elan March 31st, 2012 8:45 pm

    Ian, I’ve emailed you to get the logs. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble, we will get you sorted! Thanks for the kind words :-)

  36. Bi99uy March 31st, 2012 9:26 pm

    Elan, i have the same problem here, using a Nokia Lumia 800. Doesn´t matter what i choose to play, if i am on Wifi or 3G and what the “Directplay” setting is. It just crahses everytime.

    Also i can´t find any way to enter a password when trying to connect to a server that has Authenication on.

  37. elan March 31st, 2012 9:46 pm

    @Bi99uy: Please send us Plex Media Server logs of a play; connection to remote servers is done via myPlex now, so it’s zero configuration as long as server and phone are logged into myPlex.

  38. Bi99uy March 31st, 2012 10:11 pm

    @Elan: I have sent logs through the app, any other ways i can send them? I don´t have the phone developer unlocked or any other funky things going on.

    Myplex integration has been a bit iffy for me. Seems the server likes to unbind ports, so sometimes a restart of the server is needed, which can be very annoying when you don´t have access to your computer. That´s why i still use the “Old” way of connecting when i can (On my Android and iOS devices).

    Seeing as one still can type in a server manually, but not specify a password, it would be a nice feature for the minority who still use it.

  39. Bi99uy March 31st, 2012 10:41 pm

    I can´t find the app anymore on the marketplace, has it been pulled?

  40. Bi99uy April 1st, 2012 2:11 am

    Aah, Plex media SERVER logs, by bad. I blame it on not having my morning coffeé. Surething, i will post them as soon as i get home from work.

    Also as an update to my other post, it seems plex won´t popup when i search for it, the link works however. Somekind of rollout thing i guess.

  41. Thomas April 1st, 2012 2:37 am

    Got it and bought it from the link above. Strangely enough it didn’t show up in marketplace on the phone till I’d actually already installed it (a different app called Plex did, however. A game of some sort).

    It works well enough, but like the 360 and PS3 it only streams music and local media files but crashes with all streaming media.

  42. Lrd2 April 1st, 2012 2:57 am

    Works perfectly on HTC Titan.

    Thanks Plex

  43. scott April 1st, 2012 3:52 am

    I’ve been mashing f5 for a day in the marketplace! I think it must be an Aprils fools day gag ;)

  44. jonas svensson April 1st, 2012 4:59 am

    Hi. crashes whatever I try to play. Sent crash report.

    Only photos work.
    I have a Lumia 800

    jonas

  45. jonas svensson April 1st, 2012 5:00 am

    Music also works.

    Jonas

  46. Doubt April 1st, 2012 5:25 am
  47. issakainen April 1st, 2012 8:59 am

    I can’t get it to work on my Lumia 800. No matter what file I try to open, it always crashes. Server is the lates beta 9.6.0

    What do I do?

  48. elan April 1st, 2012 9:09 am

    UPDATE: We’re tracking the crashes you guys are seeing, and will be fixing the issues. Currently trying to figure out why some people are getting crashes whenever playing video.

  49. Jonas April 1st, 2012 10:06 am

    Thanks..

  50. Jamehz April 1st, 2012 5:50 pm

    Downloaded Plex for my Lumia 710, with high hopes to rid myself of having both Air Server and TVersity/MyMediaWP7 to accomodate my iPad and Lumia respectively.

    It’s promising! From what I can see from the trial, videos, music and pictures work both on WiFi and 3G!

    My only holdback at this point is the Lack of Folder View like the PC Client has. I rely on my folder structure, not a single flood of filenames, to browse my videos, and I’d have to do some major re-naming to match the structure preferred in the Plex naming docs.

    It seems that a good chunk of videos don’t pick up in the library at this time, I believe due to their names relative to the sub-folder they’re inside. (ie Dexter Season 1S01E01 – Pilot.avi)

    In addition, the 30-second limit seems to count when it starts trying to stream, not actual play time, so when I’m attempting to test the transcoding of a huge (23GB 1080p MKV) file, it stops and nags me before it even begins.

    Attempts to play a song from the iTunes plugin crashes, though it’s a good attempt for a first iteration! Thanks to my iTunes-based music structure it picks them all up in the regular Music library.

    Of course right now Plex is a new thing for me as a whole, so I’m playing with the PC Client/Server setup to see if it fits my needs, which I’m almost convinced it will.

    I’m sincerely hopeful that this can be my be-all solution to streaming my library anytime I want. Keep up the great work! I hope this constructive criticism will only help improve your product.

  51. Thorne April 2nd, 2012 7:08 am

    I think your perceptions of Android are a bit dated. While early Android was a mess and certainly an iOS-derivative, now a days, everything they’ve added recently is derivative of either Win7 Phone or Android.

    Either way, good work on the app.

  52. despotic April 2nd, 2012 7:25 am

    Pass … didn’t read the whole article as I can’t take an opinion on technology from somebody who says “Seriously, if I could remove my battery, I would misplace it in less than five minutes”

  53. Chen April 2nd, 2012 7:40 am

    As a former iPhone fanboy and Windows Phone hater (original release), I tried Windows Phone 7.5 once and fell in love with it. It’s amazing and it breaks my heart that it has so little of the market share.

    I now hate the iphone and android as they are dull and boring and can’t get enough of WP, it just makes me smile everytime I use it.

    Thank you for taking your time to develop the app, I want to hug you.

  54. elan April 2nd, 2012 8:21 am

    @despotic: Probably a wise choice, the rest of the humor would have likely been lost on you as well.

  55. ian April 2nd, 2012 8:22 am

    RE: despotic

    “Seriously, if I could remove my battery, I would misplace it in less than five minutes”

    I think much of it was tongue in cheek. I hope.

  56. Bil Simser April 2nd, 2012 9:30 am

    Great to read the experience and happy to see someone producing another official WP7 app! Remember to update your website though as the dropdown for mobile only shows iOS and Android and the text on the home page doesn’t mention WP7.

  57. Sean April 2nd, 2012 9:49 am

    Well I stopped reading it when I realized there was an inherent lack of Barkley pictures in the post. I don’t know how I can take technology advice from someone who only has one incidental picture of his paws.

    You think you’ve grown to know a developer. Supposedly work is abandoning blackberry soon, Windows reviews sound great, I hope they go that direction.

  58. Chris April 2nd, 2012 11:36 am

    Elan,
    Thanks so much for creating this app and sharing your opinions on the Windows Phone OS and ecosystem. It’s refreshing to read a developer take a chance on this budding system rather than say that it’s a “washed up” system and that the 2D tiles are boring. Will definitely check out your app and see how it is on WP7!

  59. Jon April 2nd, 2012 2:38 pm

    Thanks also. I appreciated the affirmation of Windows Phone. It really is a worthwhile mobile OS.

  60. Yulian Kuncheff April 2nd, 2012 3:58 pm

    In order to support greater adoption of WP7 and as a thank you for taking the time and effort to make the app (which works amazingly well), I purchased not only the WP7 client but went to my android tablet, and purchased that one too.

    And the app works beautifully, just streamed a few Doctor Who episodes while walking on campus. Superb handling of the stream.

  61. elan April 2nd, 2012 7:56 pm

    Yulian, you just totally made our day. Thank you so much!

  62. Liam Self April 3rd, 2012 1:09 pm

    Very pleased that you’re company is showing an interest in the platform. So often is the case that developers shun WP7, citing a comparitively low user base for its reason not to develop for it. At the same time, consumers blame the lack of apps as a reason for not using the OS. It’s a vicious circle; how will it gain users if no one develops for it.

    Anyway, myself being a WP7 user (Samsung Omnia 7 to be precise ;) ), this is a brilliant app that not only excells in what it aims to do (movie streaming is flawless even with my dodgy router…) but it also is a great use of the Metro UI.

    Keep up the good work guys (custom artwork for PC anytime soon…? ;) )

  63. personoid April 3rd, 2012 9:39 pm

    Is there a tutorial on how to setup Plex, I’m having the hardest time figuring this one out. Can’t wait to try it out.

  64. RedBat April 11th, 2012 3:43 pm

    Great write up. I just bought the Nokia Lumia 900 (my second WP, first was the Samsung Focus) and think it’s a wonderful device. I’m delighted to know my new plex server will be available on my phone.

  65. Waazdakka April 12th, 2012 10:34 pm

    OMG Finally =DDDDD

    Nice article, thank you for your sincere and constructive advice on Windows Phone, it’s simply the first time I read something as authentic coming from someone who likes Apple products ^ ^
    Plex Application for Windows Phone will be purchased as soon as I confirmed that it works with my server! (High price make my darling grumble :P even on iphone I see)

    Again thank you and congratulations!

    Another thing, are you thinking about create a full Windows client rather than a solution in browser?

  66. Stefan April 21st, 2012 7:30 am

    4,99€? Hm, first App i’m gonna buy! :)
    I have been waiting for so long… :D

  67. Karen April 26th, 2012 10:00 am

    I already have the Android app, any reason to buy the WP7 app?

  68. elan April 26th, 2012 10:57 am

    @Karen: If you have a Windows Phone and want to run Plex on it?

  69. Karen May 3rd, 2012 4:27 am

    Yeah, I was just wondering if WP functionality was an improvement over Android or anything. I carry both phone with me at all times, so I guess I will pass on buying it for my WP for now.

  70. elan May 3rd, 2012 7:08 pm

    @Karen: Ah, gotcha :) In general, the functionality should be similar; there are a few places where Android is ahead, and vice versa. If MS’ App Hub allowed it, I’d send you a free redemption code, but you can check out the free trial in the store!

  71. TheRiver May 13th, 2012 5:14 am

    from what you said about android I am 100% that you did not even try it you should have a good one then say what you want to say

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