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Kodi 15.0 Isengard – Beta 2

Here it is, the second beta build for Kodi 15.0; freshly baked and ready to be served! A little later than originally planned though, which we’ll explain later. Although we said that Kodi 15.0 a “clean-up” edition, we still managed to squeeze in a couple of really nice features. In total we had ~180 code change requests which were included since last beta release. All this sums up in a pretty big list of improvements and clean-up. As such we will only highlight some of the bigger changes.

Database clean-up

This was the actual reason for the beta 2 delay. With each Kodi release we do several database changes and as such need to upgrade the structure a bit. During last beta 1 release a problem arose that had been present during the past years but never really showed up as a problem, until now. As you add your media to the Kodi library we gather related information about the movies and shows from several websites like TheMovieDB and TheTVdb. It became clear that this data wasn’t always in the format we expected it to be. Some examples are additional spaces, line ending codes or wrong characters before and after actors, directors and such. The result was that some of these values were added as duplicates into the database as they didn’t have a perfect match each time. With the changes done in the last months this became a bigger problem for each database upgrade we do. This was reason enough to tackle this problem properly and do a clean-up session on current database version and make sure that new data is properly formatted before adding in new added video content. This clean-up session is a one time action for each device or MySQL database for this 15.0 release.

IMPORTANT: Depending on the size of your current library and the devices you are currently using, it may take some time before this process is completed. Especially people using the Raspberry-Pi and/or using MySQL libraries. Please do not turn off the device during initial start after this upgrade and wait till it’s finished. It may take from one second to one or two minutes before the database is migrated. This is a one time migration.

Refresh rate switching and 4K Playback on Android

One of the limitations of the Android platforms always was that it wasn’t capable of switching your screen to the same refresh-rate as the current playing video. This could cause a slight video stutter occasionally as video frames had to be duplicated to keep audio in sync. Since Android 5.0 there’s at least a way to set the preferred refresh-rate of the video output that could solve several of these problems. Do note that this feature is still in early stage and also needs proper firmware implementation of the device manufacturers. This could mean that your device only supports one mode while others support several. So this feature really depends on the combination of the Android devices and the connected display output. Do note that it’s  “preferred refresh-rate” and not “force refresh-rate“. This means that we can only indicate what we would like and then it’s up to the device if it actually will do this. To make use of this feature you need to manually enable “Adjust display refresh rate” which can be found in settings -> video -> playback. You may need to to alter the settings level before this becomes visible.

TearsOfSteel4k

With the rise of all the new 4K content, playback devices and displays, having proper 4K playback on Android is becoming a more and more nice thing to have. Although true 4K implementation for applications like Kodi is only planned in Android M, one of our developer found a way to at least incorporate this for the Android 5.0 platform. With the help of the people from NVIDIA and their newly released SHIELD Android TV we can now say Kodi will do it’s user interface and video playback in full [email protected]

should your device support this.

IMPORTANT: The improvements mentioned will require that you at least use Android 5.0 and your devices must have the proper implementation of these features to support it. It could mean that you have to wait for future firmware updates for your device.

Adaptive seeking

The Step Forward, Step Back and Small Step Back actions are now forwarded to a new seeking function that is configurable in the GUI via the Skip steps and Skip delay settings. It allows single skip steps backwards and forwards with the left and right cursor keys as before, however a new feature is that by pressing the left and right keys multiple times you can skip with increasingly larger steps. Another feature of this new seeking function is that music files can also now can make use of skip steps. You can watch this short YouTube video for a quick explanation:

For more on this see http://kodi.wiki/view/Skip_Steps

Improvements in 15.0 beta 2 since the release of beta 1

  • • Bump libCEC to 3.3.0 which fixes a variety of problems
  • • Reworked the storage provider on Android. This fixes several problems with mounting points for storage.
  • • Fix the queuing of music videos
  • • Improvement to FF/RW of videos
  • • Improvement to picons in livetv
  • • Prevention of clipping of rotated text, which happened in certain skins
  • • Improved logic to make PVR, audio encoders and audio decoders optional.
  • • Audio decoder and PVR add-ons are now disabled by default. When you want to use these you need to enable them manually.
  • • Fix launching of add-ons from the add-on information dialog
  • • Show progress for add-on repository update
  • • Properly fall back to the new language files location
  • • Fix of grouping movie sets when navigating in smartplaylists
  • • Fix wrong icon showing in popup dialogs
  • • Restore volume after pass-through on Android
  • • Combine previously split GUI text into a single string. This improves ability to properly translate them.
  • • Included newer version of several PVR add-ons
  • • Fix incorrect fall-back language after we made them into add-ons
  • • Fix 8channel audio conversion on Windows
  • • Try to detect supported sample rates on Android
  • • Do a complete video database clean-up session to remove leading/trailing spaces and invalid characters
  • • Prevent inserting leading/trailing spaces and invalid characters on new video scans
  • • Add season and episode labels to PVR section
  • • Fix possible font corruption
  • • Remove default 250ms audio delay on Android for AMLogic chipsets
  • • Fix subtitles showing on top of each other in certain cases

The complete list can be found on our Github beta 2 milestone.

Improvements so far in 15.0

Any other improvements have been covered in our previous release notes. More in depth information on the changes made in previous interim releases can be found through the following links

Add-ons

General: So far in 15.0 there are no add-on changes that would impact any add-ons except for PVR. Since our 12.x Frodo release there have been some gradual changes but in general all add-ons, even from that time should still work, of course there are some exceptions. If the add-ons worked in Gotham and in Helix then we are happy to say that all these add-ons should still work. It could be that not all PVR add-ons are fully adjusted and updated, though the developers will do their best to be ready for final release.

Skins: As of this moment, all skins that worked in 14.0 Helix should still work in 15.0 Isengard. In the PVR sections there are certain changes that might be noticeable and need specific skin changes. These changes are minimal and shouldn’t cause any major problems in usability. We’re sure that most skin creators will be updating the skins in due time. Before that happens you should be able to enjoy this beta build without any problems.

DirectX 11 upgrade (not included in 15.0)

DX11Although this release post is all about the upcoming 15.0 version, mentioning the DX11 upgrade for next version is very important. Since day and age Kodi (and XBMC in the past) has used the DirectX 9 implementation for various task of rendering the user interface and media playback. This almost dated back to the XBOX days. With the hardware industry moving and focussing more on the newer DX11 with their drivers, more people have problems with running our outdated DX 9 version. This could range from simply not starting, crashing just after loading, playing videos or having problems with hardware acceleration. One of our developers afedchin took on this task and completely revised our DirectX 9 implementation and upgraded it to the more current standard of DirectX 11. Don’t worry if you still have an older card, we only use low level features so you don’t need to run to the shop for new gear. If you are having problems on Windows you can head to our forum where you can find the most recent build available which is currently based on our 15.0 release. We appreciate all the feedback we can get. Read more: here. Again this will not be part of our final 15.0 release, it will be in 16.0

We need your help

With every release there comes a point where we as a team think we’re ready enough to call it “beta” and work our way to make it a final release. From this point on we need you, the users, to help test the builds we publish and report any problems you may encounter. As we are only a limited group of people who also use Kodi in their spare time, we are limited in the ways we can use and test Kodi to the full extent. We are grateful to the devoted users who have already helped us testing the alpha builds and the first beta build on day to day basis. Having many thousands more running and testing this beta we can hopefully work out some of the remaining issues that lie within our power.

Conclusion

Should you want to download and install this beta build please visit our download page.

After the beta release you can also install the nightly versions we build each day.

Other Software

In addition to creating Kodi, the members of Team Kodi have created official remotes to be installed on your tablet or phone.

Kore™ (Android) Official Kodi Remote (iOS)
org.xbmc.kore Official Kodi Remote (iOS)

Like Kodi™ itself, both official remotes are free and open source software.

Get involved

Getting involved is quite easy. Simply take the plunge and start using these 15.0 Isengard builds. If you use these builds, we encourage you to report problems with these builds on our forum first and after that, if asked, submit bugs on Trac (following this guide: How to submit a bug report). Do note that we need detailed information so we can investigate the issue. We also appreciate providing support to other users in our Forums where you can, or donate to the XBMC Foundation if you like. You can of course also follow or help promote Kodi on all available social networks. Read more on the get involved page.