Microsoft’s Xbox One console is about to move in further past Sony’s PS4 when it comes to getting content other than games in your living room. Earlier today, Plex announced a new app that’ll allow users to get their own media off their hard drives and onto the Xbox One even easier than they can today.
Microsoft has yet to announce the new Plex for Xbox One app on it’s on blog, but Plex did share details about the features coming to the Xbox One with The Verge this morning. Plex is a set of media services that allow users to share content that they own across multiple devices. Essentially, it’s a media server in the sky.
When it launches tomorrow, Plex for Xbox One will allow users to stream music, movies and television shows directly to their Xbox One. Installing Plex on a PC or Mac gives the service access to locally stored content. This can be content legitimately purchased and copied to the PC or content that’s been downloaded through torrents for free. Plex for Xbox One will treat this content the same.
In addition to making it easier to stream, Plex automatically looks for related information like artwork and a list of cast members. Again, the idea of Plex is that it’s still a user’s content – it’s just made available in a more convenient way. The Plex for Xbox One app that’s arriving tomorrow will have unique features like the ability to learn more about what you want to watch and make recommendations based on that. It’ll also be missing a few key features. Mainly, users won’t be able to listen to music or browse through their photos on Xbox One. Plex says those features will arrive sometime before the end of the year in an update.
Plex for Xbox One won’t be everyone’s answer to getting the content they own in the living room. Initially, Plex will allow only subscribers of its $4.99 a month service to use Plex for Xbox One. Later the company has plans to make Plex for Xbox One available to everyone for a one-time fee. When that’ll happen remains unclear, but either way users who don’t want to pay anything extra will need to look elsewhere like the Media Player app that’s now available on the Xbox One.
Having matched the price of the PS4 and rolled out its own free games program for subscribers, Microsoft has quickly moved to bolster the entertainment features in the Xbox One. At launch last year, the Xbox One could only play DVDs and Blu-ray discs. In recent months Microsoft has added support for 3D Blu-Rays, added a new media player app that supports a huge swatch of media formats and added external hard drive support so that users can enjoy the content they have stored for safe keeping.
Meanwhile, Sony has only bolstered the PS4’s media capabilities in some small ways. The PS4 still doesn’t include external hard drive support and there’s still no easy way to actually play an MP3 you own on the console. The PS4 may be leading in sales now, but if Microsoft is able to continue developing its media features and deliver games users want to play at a decent rate Sony could find itself behind the Xbox One quickly.
As for Plex, users who download the app aren’t just getting a decent media streaming experience on Microsoft’s console. Today there are Plex apps for many best-selling devices. Today, Plex is available for iPhones, iPads, Android devices and smartphones and tablets running Windows. Plex has plans to for an Xbox 360 app, but it doesn’t yet have an actual release date.