XBMC workaround for Android hardware video acceleration

xbmc-android-video-hardware-acceleration-workaround

An unofficial, but fully functional release of XBMC should make the uber-popular media center software work with almost all Android devices. About six months ago the developers of XBMC announced that it had been ported for Android. That was true, but there was one caveat. The port was made functional on one specific Android device. The hardware company Pivos paid for the devs to add support for their Xios DS device. Although that build could be run on other Android devices, the hardware video acceleration could only be use if it was the same as the Xios. When not using the hardware acceleration many common video formats would only play at a few frames per second, if at all.

This build is a workaround and is not officially supported. What it brings to the table is the ability to use an external media player with XBMC. This way any video format which your Android device is capable of playing (with hardware acceleration) can be launched from XBMC but will be played by the native video application. We haven’t tried it for ourselves. If you have we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

[via Ars Technica]

Comments

  1. Max says:

    On a Rasperry Pi that would make quite a cheap media player!

    • I had really hoped that we’d see Android on the Pi but it’s vaporware. Also, XBMC has been around for the Pi for months now, check out the OpenELEC project. I ran it on mine for a very short time, it was good.

      • MikrySoft says:

        I own a Pi. It’s not the fastest of the machines (running OpenELEC now) and throwing Android on top of it would kill it.

        • six677 says:

          Many smartphones used to be less powerful than the pi, the galaxy ace for example. Issue with android on the pi is purely one of drivers and hardware acceleration (which comes under the previous to an extent anyway). Currently the semi working versions of android on the pi are all software floating point and software drawn graphics. Hardware accelerated builds will come eventually but it seems there isnt a whole lot of desire for them.

          XBMC on android on the pi would be pointless though. Might aswell just use XBMC with an existing linux distro on the pi.

          • bWare says:

            The Galaxy Ace is broadly comparable to the Pi, same ARM version, but higher default clock. More memory then early Pi’s but less then latter. Whilst it can run JellyBean (just as the Pi will be able to), both Google and Samsung agree it doesn’t meet the hardware requirements.

    • Chris says:

      I already do this with Raspbmc. It works pretty well and streams off shares on my PC.

  2. alxy says:

    > This way any video format which your Android device is capable of playing (with hardware acceleration) can be launched from XBMC but will be played by the native video application

    What’s the point then?

  3. Michael says:

    Ouya

  4. Grayda says:

    I tried it out the other day. Asides from not knowing which sort of device I had (NEON or non-NEON) it installed quite easily. I tried using the official XBMC remote with it but it didn’t work, plus while watching a video it crashed.

    Right now it’s not media center material (as in, it won’t replace our current set up) but in the future it will, and also supports nice things like being set as a launcher to run other Android apps and such.

  5. jammin0 says:

    I’m using it, works great on my android stick computer MK808. You were able to do this same thing on some of the newer versions but it works really well now using mxplayer. Streams HD fairly well depending on connection.

    It works so seamlessly now that the uninitiated wouldn’t even know what was happening.

  6. BadHaddy says:

    Ugh.

    I work for Pivos. We didn’t pay XBMC, we had hired two developers for our own project who just so happened to be developers with the XBMC project. We negotiated with AmLogic to get access to what was needed for our own product, and agreed to open source huge chunks of our work and jumpstart hardware decoding support for Android XBMC.

    For all the trouble these guys are going through to get half-assed hardware decoding working on unsupported devices, you could drop a few bucks more on a Pivos device and get a warranted/supported solution that also contributes back to XBMC with usable code and developer hours.

    • BadHaddy says:

      I also want to add that the people who made this release are NOT the official XBMC devs. This hacked up version has been floating around for a while now.

    • John says:

      In case you didn’t notice, this site is called hack a day. We enjoy coming up with creative solutions to problems, not just paying money for a product. Why don’t you go shill on engadget.

      • BadHaddy says:

        If you look around you will see i have been contributing here for years. I’m deeply involved with Photovoltaics, mesh networking, and embedded devices, including putting openWRT onto new platforms (and then powering those platforms with the sun. I’m not a shill, in this case this is just my employer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shill Did ya read the first line? GREAT! If I was a shill, I would have covered up my relationship.

        I’m just pointing out that this doesn’t advance the XBMC project, and actively harms it. People will accept this as the solution and development on a proper, supported, fully open source solution will stagnate. The use of the external player prevents new XBMC features from being rolled in without work arounds.

      • Feeding the trolls….,but, but.

        A hack is not installing two software packages. Hey Pivos did the hard work – coding – that a hack in my sense of the word.

        Shills do give full disclosure. IF anyoen is entitles to comment it is someone workign for Pivos.

    • Marc Mohon says:

      Hey man, i bought the pivos box to support XBMC. Keep up the good work, getting better all the time. Its unfortunate that the work done sometimes doesn’t contribute to the wellbeing of XBMC as a whole, but sometimes it does! Gotta take the upsides and downsides of open-source together.

    • BLKMGK says:

      I have to agree. I have now bought two Pivos with the first being given away as a holiday gift. I dumped the Android pretty quickly and flashed it with the actively updated Pivos Linux build and away it went. The second one I’ve bought to play with myself and while it’s not quite as capable as my ION\ATOM machines it costs about 1/3rd and is quite tiny. IMO Pivos has done a great job with their hardware and the price isn’t bad for what you get – heck it even came with an HDMI cable!

  7. strider_mt2k says:

    I am running XBMC on my Toshiba Excite 10 AT300 tablet.
    It’s Tegra 3, and seems to handle it with no problems. Everything plays really smoothly, even the stuff on my server which it connected to with zero problems and the controls all work with one exception: The volume maxes out at whatever my volume is set to when I start the application.
    I do have MX Player previously installed, but can’t tell if it is being used or not. MX’s gesture controls aren’t recognized when running XBMC.

    I hope this is helpful or informative in some way somewhere.

  8. DosX says:

    Samsung GTAB2 7.0 will test this out tonight or tomorrow thanks for the heads up guys….
    Had XMBC on tab….at first no audio and video didnt play at all then after a few knock abouts had audio but video ran slower than a snail on a turtles back.

  9. WhiteCrane says:

    I just use a VNC client on my android tablet and use XBMC that way. Why limit yourself to what the android device can display normally? Or am I missing something?

    • SteveHaD says:

      Yeah, you’re missing the fact that you still need to have a full computer running somewhere else that you VNC into. And VNC is never going to give you a smooth 1080 HD and high quality audio like native hardware can.

  10. bacare says:

    XMBC Frodo rc3 runs flawlessly on all three of my andriods MK-808 (rk3066 cortex A9) an allwiner A10 (actually a cortex A8) and an eclipse 4.3 mid (no idea ) jelly bean, ICS, and gingerbread i’d say they’ve done an exceptional job and it’s still in beta

  11. six677 says:

    I just use the vlc app. Seems to play all content rather well on my brothers kindle fire.

  12. echodelta says:

    What about a Sony NSZ-GS7? I just acquired one for free. I read up on it, buggy! Haven’t plugged it in yet.

  13. Mcavity says:

    i have the XBMC version of frodo [rc 3] running on my galaxy note. It works well though the resolution is fixed.. even when i output to hdmi.

  14. lee says:

    WARNING new xbmc took over my cell phone!
    I installed mx player(neon) on my droid bionic yesterday, and updated my current version of xbmc to the linked version. All works well in regards to being a nice media center, however xbmc is the only thing it does. Closing, force quitting and even restarts return to either a completely black screen or the xbmc startup screen. Fortunately my phone is rooted and I can access the shell through adb’s terminal over usb. First tried to clear xbmc’s cache files, with no luck, restart reinstantiated them. Next i removed the apk entirely. This worked, and I have my phone back, but man what a pain. Any xbmc+android devs out there want to venture a guess as to what’s going on? That said, I love xbmc’s software and use it on an mk802ii(older android version, debating updating) as well as a raspberry pi (custom compiled linux version).

  15. Drone says:

    This is difficult because manufacturer’s won’t release info on their video drivers. It’s not that they want to hide the information, I’m sure they would much prefer to release info so more people can easily use (and therefore buy) their product! The problem is a dysfunctional and corrupt U.S. Patent and Trade Office coupled with zillions of greedy Trial Lawyers. Companies are afraid to release any information these days for fear of being sued over some frivolous misinterpreted patent.

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