Announcing VLC 2.5 release!

5 minute read

VLC is back on Play Store! Version 2.0 is more than 1 year old and will leave room for 2.5 which brings very interesting evolutions!

VLC for Android releases have been trapped in VLC 3.0 preparation and big media library refactoring black holes. So, there hasn’t been any update for 13 months, but development is still active and cool new stuff is coming!

This post will focus on features, implementations will be detailed in other blog posts (like the DiffUtil intro).

For now, let me introduce you to the new VLC for Android.

Minimum Android version is now Gingerbread.
FroYo support has been abandonned, these devices cannot access Google Play Store anymore.

UX evolutions

New dynamic UI

Video cards have been refactored, we now show you video details over its cover picture. This is a nicer presentation and gives room for displaying more videos at once.

Audio lists have been slightly lifted too. Others lists view have been reworked, like audio media, browsers and history. We got rid of cardview pattern, and got back to a more flat and clean design.

You can now select multiple items at the same time, to start a playlist for example.

Sort options have been spread to Audio and Browser sections.

Info page has also been redesigned with a fancy collapse effect for thumbnail or cover.

According to Material design principles, application has also become a bit more dynamic.

video grid

songs scrolling

New Audio Player Style

Audio player background is now a blurred version of current art cover if available.

player list player cover

Picture-In-Picture mode

VLC implements PiP support for Oreo devices and even Nougat Android TVs. You can activate it from video advanced options during playback.

We also added an option to automatically continue video playback in PiP or background mode (audio only) while multitasking.
Go in VLC settings to activate it and video playback will switch to PiP when you’ll press HOME button.

player cover

Android TV

TV interface had its own minor lifting too. Background is filled with blurred covers and colors are warmer. Also I made long media titles scroll, I heard your (justified) frustration :)

video grid

audio player

Android Auto

This release will bring Android Auto compatibility.
You’ll be able to use VLC as your travel music player with easy browsing into you audio library, with the minimum possible distraction from driving.

auto player

auto menu

VLC also supports voice actions on Android Auto:
You can ask “play Daft Punk (with VLC)” and Google Assistant will recognize whether it’s an artist, an album or a song you’re asking for and command VLC to play it.

auto voice

Chrome OS support

VLC has been tested and adapted for latest Chrome OS running Android apps. You now have an awesome media application ready for your chromebook!

Chrome OS

360° Videos support

VLC now supports 360° videos, you can change viewpoint by swiping or with remote control arrows.

video 360

Cardboard/VR mode is not available yet but we are working on it.

Search has been split in two modes:

  • First step, the text you type in triggers a filtering in the current view. Exactly like in current playlist view.

  • If you want to do a global search, click on the SEARCH IN ALL MEDIALIBRARY button to show the new search view. This will bring detailed results grouped by video/artist/album/songs/genres/playlist.

search global

Bonus: VLC is now compatible with voice search.
Asking Google Now “Search Artic Monkeys in VLC” will trigger a Arctic Monkeys search and show you this new search result screen.

search voice

Miscellaneous new features

  • DayNight mode integration
  • Audio boost in video
  • Equalizer custom presets
  • Save and resume position for podcasts & audiobooks
  • Restored double/long click on remote play to skip songs
  • Removed sound lowering on notification
  • Force previous song on audioplayer swipe
  • Fix audioplayer layout for black theme and RTL
  • Save subtitles delay and optionally audio delay for each file.
  • Support for devices with large aspect ratio, like G6 and S8 phones

Under the hood

MediaLibrary

That’s the most important change in this update, because it affects the whole application, but you should barely notice it…

VLC now uses medialibrary like VLC for Tizen (other VLC ports will follow).
It’s a C++ library, written by Hugo Beauzée-Luyssen, which parses storages for video/audio files and manages a sqlite database to model your media library (with album, artist, genre classification, etc..). It replaces the old system we had on Android which just saved media files with their metadata, we had no proper structure for media library.
Categories lists are now faster to show up, we don’t have to generate them at runtime. And this is all native code, which is faster than Java.
Beside this speed improvement, one of the main benefits of this medialibrary is to provide better search results.

For now we are focusing on the first scan performance to make it at least as fast as the previous system.

So, this library is aimed to be a common module of all VLC ports, wich means all debugging, performance and any improvement will benefit other platforms.

Next steps for this library will be media scrapping, and network scan:

  • Medialibrary will get information and illustrations for your media, so we’ll be able to present you a nice collection instead of an uncheerful files list. We will also group media by shows/seasons et genre/release year/whatever
  • You will be able to scan your NAS content to access your media easily.

This will make VLC a fully featured media center!

Playback performance & formats support

VLC core team worked hard too to bring performance improvements and some new features. Here are some highlights:

  • Adaptive (HLS/Dash) & TS playback improved
  • OpenGLES 2.0 is now used to render video (for software decoders & mediacodec)
  • Support for VP8/9/10 in MP4
  • HDMI passthrough

Future

We also plan to implement a feature to download media on your device, in order to sync your series episodes or songs from your NAS to your device.

We’d like to support videos playlists like we do with videos grouped by their common name prefix.

As previously stated, medialibrary will help VLC to turn into a real media center with fancy movies/tv shows presentation, and better artists/albums artworks.

At last, I started an extension API to help everyone eager to develop android applications that can provide content to VLC, and benefit from VLC Auto and TV implementation. As a start, we will release (with sources of course) extensions for podcasts subscriptions and Google Drive access.