by Swapnil Bhartiya

Exclusive: Plex is coming to Apple TV

Sep 10, 2015
Computers and PeripheralsConsumer ElectronicsOpen Source

With the arrival of tvOS and tvOS SDK, Plex will eventually arrive on Apple TV after all these years.

Apple yesterday refreshed its line of products, as part of a predictable annual event. Though since Steve Jobs passed away there hasn’t been a ‘wow’ or ‘one more thing’ moment where Apple surprised us with a device that would change the course of the tech industry. This event, just like their previous events, was more about catching up with other players.

However, one product that got my attention was Apple TV. I have Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick, but I never bothered with Apple TV for one and only one reason — lack of Plex support. I have purchased a lot of movies, TV shows and music over the last couple of years and I enjoy them on my local network through Plex.

Yesterday Apple announced that it is turning Apple TV into a platform, opening it up for third party developers. They have already published the beta of tvOS and tvOS SDK, which developers can play with.

Does that mean I can get Plex on Apple TV?

I reached out to Plex via email and Scott Olechowski, the co-founder of Plex replied, saying, “We are very excited to have a crack at bringing our users Apple TV. It’s been a long requested platform and we’re excited to work on it. We want it, our users want it…and we’re anxiously awaiting the tvOS developer beta info, so we can finally dig in.”

I further inquired if Olechowski believed that tvOS will allow Plex developers to offer the app to the platform or if there could still be any hurdles. He replied, “There is no question we will be able to offer Plex on the platform. There are multiple ways to go about it, based on the tvOS SDK we now have access to. We are now evaluating the best path for Plex and will begin work in earnest once we have evaluated the options. The ability to access great and proven iOS frameworks on the device is great for developers like us — we know the stuff is solid and will perform really well. Our goal is to enable people to enjoy Plex on the hardware platforms of their choice, and there is no doubt this will be a top platform for us.”

When I asked about the timeframe since the betas are out, he said that it’s still a bit early. “Of course we have started digging in and looking at it, but we have some bigger questions to answer before we can set any expectations.”

I recall how Google initially blocked third party developers from streaming local content to Chromecast and there are users who have been waiting for Plex for eternity. There is a fear that something may still restrict Plex developers from landing on Apple TV. When I asked Olechowski if there is anything that’s restricting Plex now, he said,  “Nope!!! If you can wrangle us a few more hours in each day between now and the end of the year, I can promise we would get to where we are going a bit faster!”

Plex on Apple TV with Siri at your disposal? That’s kind of entertaining.

As a footnote, there was another new Apple TV feature that piqued my interest as well: The arrival of Siri. I watched the keynote and it was impressive. If you missed any dialogue by a character you can ask Siri what did he say and it will replay that section with captions turned on. You can skip forward in a movie by telling Siri to skip 5 minutes or so.

Did you watch the Apple event? What stood out for you?