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Chromecast free for everyone, and great new features for iOS!

Lo! We bring you good tidings, fair Plexians!

You’ve been very patient, and we’re thrilled to announce that Chromecast support is now free for everyone! All you have to do is update to the new releases of our iOS and Android apps, and you can enjoy the absolute best local media app for Chromecast. (And of course, a giant thank you to all the Plex Pass members who supported us during the preview period. You all rock. Namaste.)

Seriously, though, if you’ve been waiting to check out Plex on the Chromecast, it’s completely awesome. Downright rad. Not only do we provide the highest quality streaming around for your photos, music and videos (guaranteed, or your pixels back), we just added “content mirroring” which displays details for your media on the big screen while you browse, which is an incredibly cool, unique, and useful feature. Impress your friends. Make your parents think all that money for college didn’t go to waste.

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And really, we could end the blog post right here. Chromecast support is free, now get back to your couch and check it out.

But we slipped in a few more awesome things for you…

In the six+ years we’ve been working on Plex for you, one of the most often requested features is “can I shuffle all my music?” Well, as of today, on iOS and in the web app, yes, yes you can! We’re happy to be introducing our play queues feature, which is—as you might have guessed—a prelude to full-blown playlists for Plex. As always, we don’t take new features lightly; what you’re seeing below is a shuffle of over 40,000 tracks, using the highest quality shuffle mechanism there is. It’s incredibly fast, even over a remote connection. And once you’ve created a play queue, you can easily add to or edit it.

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Not only can you play or shuffle all your music, but you can also use our rich and powerful filtering system to narrow down what you’re going to listen to. In this next example, I’m about to shuffle all my Australian music (and if you’re not listening to Australian music, sir or madam, you are missing out. The melodies! The lyrics! The facial hair!).

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Angel baby

And really, why would we stop at just shuffling music? You can also use play queues with video. For example, and because I have very good taste in TV shows, I’m just sitting down on the couch with Barkley, about to partake in an Archer marathon. Quickly queue up all unwatched episodes, shuffle all episodes, or for example, I could also use our powerful filters to shuffle all unwatched movies rated G to protect Barkley’s sensitive ears while I write code, for you.

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This feature is brand new, available for everyone on iOS and the web app, today. We’ll be expanding to other platforms, and making it even more awesome over the coming months.

So now we’re really done, right? House lights up, people heading for the exits? Hardly.

We’ve got one super cool brand new feature for Plex Pass members on iOS called Camera Upload. It’s easy to explain: point the Plex app at a server and a photo library, and it’ll make sure all the photos on your camera roll automatically upload to that library. We do all the work for you, in the background, using a brand new iOS 7 feature. Keep your phone in your pocket, as your photos are backed up safely in a Plex library, and then you can access them on all Plex apps, share them with friends or family, or (of course) fling them to your Chromecast (free for everyone now!).

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We’ve even made a little promo video for the feature, since we dig it so much:

 

And that’s all she wrote, folks. Until next time, here’s Barkley, relaxing after a beach jaunt, face full of sand and delight. He’s a damn fine dog.

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Chromecast enhancements! Shared sync! More! OMG!

Hope you all had a great weekend! We have some exciting updates for you this morning, so without further ado, let’s jump into them. Grab your (full fat) latte!

Updated Media Server

We’ve been hard at work on the 0.9.9 series of the media server, as we (asymptotically) approach the big One Dot Oh. We’ve added scheduled tasks, partial scanning, support for more platforms, made it faster in many ways, and fixed a ton of bugs. You can read all the details in our server releases notes thread here. (Trivia: the first release of the Plex Media Server was on November 15th, 2008. That’s over FIVE years ago, which makes it older than some of our users.)

Shared Sync

You’ve been asking for this one for a while, and we’re thrilled to finally bring it to you. When you share media from a server, you now have the ability to optionally grant permission to sync from your server. Note that while the server must still have a Plex Pass, there is no requirement that the person you’re sharing with have a Plex Pass, so this makes the family scenario awesome. Different members of your family can use different accounts, but everyone can sync! In order to use shared sync: get the latest media server, latest iOS/Android apps, and go to the usual place to grant sync permission for each user.

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Chromecast support for music and photos

 We’re also incredibly pleased to bring you support for playing music and photos via your Chromecast. If it’s in your Plex library, you can now fling it over to the Chromecast, and we even support audio transcoding for formats which aren’t natively supported.

NOTE: You’ll need the latest version of the Android app for this to work, and the iOS app which supports this feature will be in the store in the near future.

ANOTHER NOTE: Have you ever seen The Shins in concert? They’re awesome.

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Chromecast support for content mirroring

We weren’t content to stop at just playing media on the Chromecast. We’ve taken things a step further with content mirroring. What exactly is it? Well, as you’re browsing your library on your mobile device, we fling details for the item onto the big screen. It’s perfect if you’re sitting around on the couch with friends trying to decide what to watch. Below are some examples of content mirroring (we mirror movies, shows, episodes, artists, albums, and video clips from channels). All the beauty of Plex Home Theater on your tiny little Chromecast.

NOTE: You’ll need the latest version of the Android app for this to work, and the iOS app which supports this feature will be in the store in the near future.

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As a bonus feature, we’ve also thrown in a lovely background art slideshow for the “ready to cast” screen.

Enhanced video streaming for Chromecast

So let’s see – you can now play all media types on the Chromecast, as well as beautifully mirror content as you’re browsing. No other Chromecast app can do that. So what more could you possibly ask for? How about more reliable and efficient streaming of high bitrate video content? We have to admit it, we’re real media nerds here at Plex. We love the nitty gritty and the 0s and 1s and all the hard-core technology around media. So we’re pleased to announce that we hunkered down in the lab with lots of beer and came up with a better way to stream media to the Chromecast, which allows for most 1080p content to stream without needing to perform expensive transcoding. It also fixes some reliability issues we were observing with the older streaming method, and just overall makes video playback more solid on the Chromecast. So get the latest media server, and give it a try, we think you’ll be very pleased!

Barkley’s been sandier than usual these last few weeks…

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