Streaming media platform Plex has a big update for users today, which includes opening up Chromecast support to all users, after debuting it as a feature for paid Plex Pass users only back in December. That’s probably the biggest addition here for general users, but Plex Pass members get a few new perks to make up for it, including camera upload from iOS devices, and Shared Sync, which lets you give friends and family offline syncing permissions for your Plex media server.
A new feature called Play Queues for all users on iOS and the Plex web client (with future rollout planned for other platforms) also allows users to set up videos and music for continuous play, and shuffle music from different artists or create marathon viewing sessions of entire TV series’. These can be modified and added to on the fly so that the watching never has to stop, putting Plex in an even better position to replace TV, with its ability to be on in the background without much input required on the part of the user.
As for the updated Chromecast support, not only does it become free for all, it also supports music and photos with this client update on web, iOS and Android, and it offers Content Mirroring for showing exactly what you’re browsing on your iOS or Android app even in menus on your Chromecast-connected display. The bulk of 1080p content also now streams without any transcoding needed.
The camera upload feature that Plex is introducing is described in the video above, but basically it’s wireless sync from your phone to your Plex Media Server, iCloud or Google Drive-style, but with instant access to your favourite snaps on your home theatre PC. For now, it’s iOS-only, but Plex plans to expand that to other platforms in the future.
One more big addition is PlayLater integration, which allows people who have a subscription to that service to record content on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and more for later viewing. This saves it right in your Plex Media Server library, effectively giving you anytime access to content that generally needs a web connection to view. It works with Plex Sync, and Cloud Sync, effectively giving you access to the stuff you’re paying for with your streaming subscriptions everywhere at any time, which is the way it should be anyway.
Finally, Plex added a lot of backend magic to Plex Media Server, giving it the ability to do partial scans of the library, adding additional platform support and scheduled tasks for cleaner operation.
If you’re not already using Plex to manage your home media collection, then these new updates provide plenty of reasons to come on board. Plex is one of the few companies still interested in offering users a home entertainment hub that works with their existing content libraries, in addition to streaming sources, and it’s good to see that they’re still energetic about iterating on what they’ve built.