Kodi, formerly known as XBMC, is possibly the best media center nowadays: it’s free, multiplatform, and open-source, with the latter allowing its user community to develop countless add-ons to increase its already-enormous possibilities. Below, we list 10 things you can do with XBMC.
Automatically search for subtitles
If you view a lot of foreign-language content, it can be a bit tedious to find subtitles not only in your language but also synched to the version of the video you’ve downloaded. Luckily, the XBMC Subtitles plugin included by default in the media player allows you to automate this task. One of the icons in the lower player menu will take you to a section where you can load subtitles taken from several preset Internet sources, from OpenSubtitles or WikiSubtitles to pages focused on a particular language.
Create a database of your movies and series
Another interesting feature, and one that makes XBMC a very elegant media player, is its ability to do data “scraping”, that is, download all info related to the films and series in your collection, from the cover to the synopsis, as well as video duration, genre, and cast. To do so, when you add from the Archive section a file with your stored multimedia content titles, after specifying the file type (films, series, or music), you can select the database you want to extract material from, whether IMDB or any other similar service.
If you use P2P managers to download multimedia files you can always associate uTorrent to the player to be able to remotely manage your downloads and set the program itself to manage their storage in your folders for each type of multimedia content. To do so, you need to activate the WebUI service in uTorrent and install the corresponding add-on in XBMC. This tutorial explains how to do so step by step.
Watch TV online
There are several ways to use XBMC as a TV signal receiver. One of them is “physically,” by connecting a signal receptor to the computer where you have the player installed, for which you’ll need a TV tuner (on USB, or an internal or external card) to connect the signal to your coax port, whether by cable or antenna. In the System > TV section you can directly configure everything necessary, although you’ll need to have installed drivers for your tuner so the operating system can translate the information to XBMC. All this will also give you PVR options to record locally as well as EPG data reception (programming, synopsis, etc).
The other alternative is to play television programming via streaming. The preincluded video plugins give you more than a hundred channels, both mainstream and online-only ones like CollegeHumor or Twitch. If not, you can always turn to external add-ons depending on your needs.
Use it as a launcher to play video games
The Advanced Launcher plugin (which you have to install externally) allows you to convert XBMC into a smart app launcher for all sorts of files and customize it to launch video games you have installed on your computer, emulators where you can personalize the launcher for each ROM or any other kind of file, whether comics or digital books. By being able to select the launch program and the associated file format, the possibilities are endless.
Check the weather
This is one of the program tools installed by default which you can access from the main menu and find out all the weather information in a specific area as well as the forecast for the next few days, whether in textboxes or over a map. As happens with other “scraping” add-ons, you can select your preferred information source from the various options on offer.
View YouTube videos
Among video Add-ons you’ll find a YouTube video explorer, which allows you to do searches and play content from the XBMC film player, as well as save favorites and play in HD. If in itself this feature is useful, it’s still more so if you consider that many users upload full films (some of them in the public domain and others of dubious legality).
Listen to radio
The “Radio” plugin within the music add-ons section can offer you more than 7,000 worldwide radio stations, catalogued by both country or city and language or musical genre.
Use your smartphone as a remote control
XBMC has its own official Android app with which you can browse through the app using your smartphone or tablet like a remote control. It offers a series of virtual buttons to simulate an actual remote, as well as the ability to browse a series of custom thumbnail menus with your multimedia libraries.
Customize the interface
Although the default XBMC theme leaves little to be desired, you can change its look with one of the many availabe themes in Settings > Appearance > Skins. This is not just a mere skin swap: each of them installs its own plugin and completely customizes the experience. For example, the Xperience theme converts XBMC into an exact copy of the Xbox 360 menu.