As expected, Kodi 18 focuses on code improvement and optimization. We can also mention the availability of a 64-bit version, the integration of Google Assistant in the Android application, the support of contents with DRM, etc.
It is not yet clear when the release of the final version should take place, although the team says that this should happen at least ‘somewhere this year’.
Martijn Kaijser of the Kodi team announces that the development of version 17 of Kodi, also known as Krypton, was sidelined in November of last year and that version 18, which is called Leia, was started. The new version is a ‘healthy balance between cleaning up, new features and resolving regressions’. The people who already run the alpha-build would have a fairly stable experience, regardless of incidental problems, according to Kaijser in the announcement. However, a back-up is still advisable.
The full release notes of this version can be consulted, although Kaijser uses the opportunity to name a number of highlights of version 18. He states that the video player has undergone one of the biggest changes and that it has been split into its own component. The player now gets the highest priority over other actions such as menu navigation when it comes to gpu and cpu power. That was not possible in the past, according to Kaijser. Further optimizations ensure that cpu load is reduced.
In the field of drm it is possible from version 18 to play ‘with drm protected content in the way it is intended’, depending on the hardware and licenses. There would now be several add-ons that already use this functionality. The Kodi team announced a little more than a year ago that it was considering installing support for drm in the software. Kodi hooks up to the drm that is already on systems, such as the Content Decryption Module for Widevine and ReadyPlay in Android and Chrome. In combination with add-ons it is possible to play Netflix and HBO Go for example.
Other changes have been made to the music and video library, which must therefore be ‘cleaner’. The live television component should be more stable and usable according to the announcement. Kodi for Android has support for Google Assistant and much of the code for this version has been rewritten. The Linux version has also been taken care of and now uses Wayland.
The new version of Kodi 18 alpha 1 is available to download from kodi.tv/download. There are also download add-ons for Android and Windows.