Kodi is free, open-source software designed specifically with home entertainment in mind – and it’s perfect if you’re a fan of movies, sports, films and TV shows. Although it was originally created for the Microsoft Xbox and called Xbox Media Center (XBMC), Kodi has continued to evolve – spawning a community of its own.
Unlike services like Chromecast or Plex, Kodi is managed by the non-profit XBMC Foundation, and it’s constantly being modified and upgraded by countless of coders around the world. Since its creation in 2003, Kodi has been shaped by more than 500 software developers and more than 200 translators. That means you can now customize by installing addons or builds, and they’re totally free, too. And it’s not just for laptops; Kodi can now work on everything from a smartphone to an Amazon Fire TV Stick.
What can you watch on Kodi?
Kodi turns any computer, smartphone or tablet into a digital set-top box or streamer, giving users the ability to stream files from the internet, a home network and local storage. Unlike other TV streamers such as the new Apple TV, Chromecast 2 and Amazon Fire TV Stick, Kodi isn’t held back by licensing or a curated app store, so it lets you download a range of community-made apps or addons, and watch whatever you like.
Kodi’s purpose-built UI also makes browsing through your content simple. The software features what its developers call a “10-foot UI”, meaning it can be read from a theoretical distance of up to 10ft away – and thanks to a range of built-in codes, users can browse videos, photos and podcasts quickly and easily On smaller devices, Kodi offers a similar experience, but can be hooked up to a larger TV for big-screen viewing.
Tip: The £39.99 ($49.99) Amazon Fire TV Stick is one of the best Kodi streaming devices. It’s wireless, cheap and delivers a solid stream – here’s our tutorial for how to install Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV Stick.
What’s compatible with Kodi?
Kodi is available on almost every device you can think of. The media centre software is easy to download, and compatible with OS X, Linux, Windows, Android – and even the Raspberry Pi microcomputer. For those using iOS, the process is slightly more complicated: iPhone users will need to make sure their phone is jailbroken before downloading it.
If you’re interested in a streamer, but would prefer using an established, more popular alternative, read our comparison of the new Apple TV and the Chromecast 2.