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Kodi 18 Leia: Alpha 1 is Out, Here’s What’s New

A new year, a new major release for the open-source media center Kodi. Since the team started working on v18 back in November 2017, fans have been eager to hear what changes were in store for the free software. How can you improve an extensible app that’s already used by hundreds of thousands of people? The Kodi team found a way!

Kodi v18 Leia Alpha is Released 1

Nightly builds for Kodi v18, code named “Leia“, have been available for some weeks. As of March 5, 2018, the official pre-release alpha build is available to the public. Kodi v18 Leia comes with a number of new features users will be interested in, along with stability improvements over the previous nightly builds. If you like staying on the cutting edge of Kodi, now’s your chance to dive in.

Stay Safe on Kodi with the Right VPN

Kodi is free, safe, and legal to use. In fact, the software doesn’t ship with anything even remotely suspicious. Because you can add third party content to the main app, though, some people have started using Kodi to access pirated streams. This has given the entire environment something of a bad reputation. Schools and businesses block Kodi downloads, and ISPs even monitor or throttle Kodi traffic.

You can keep your streams hidden and use Kodi however you like by employing a good VPN. Virtual private networks create a safe tunnel between you and the internet by encrypting everything that leaves your device. Third parties such as hackers or government agencies won’t be able to tell what you’re downloading, and ISPs will have no idea you’re using Kodi, stopping their throttling efforts before they even begin. With a VPN running in the background your online activities can remain safe and secure no matter what.

The Best VPN for Kodi – IPVanish

Kodi v18 Leia Alpha is Released 2 - IPVanish

Choosing the right VPN for Kodi means finding the best balance of speed and privacy. IPVanish, hits the mark with a large network of 950 servers in 60 different countries, each one finely tuned for fast, lag-free connections around the world. You’ll be able to access all of Kodi’s add-on content safely and anonymously with IPVanish. Data leaving your device is secured with 256-bit AES encryption, and your identity stays hidden thanks to DNS leak protection, a zero-logging policy on all traffic, and automatic kill switch features.

IPVanish offers a 7-day money back guarantee which means you have a week to test it risk-free. Please note that Addictive Tips readers can save a massive 60% here on the IPVanish annual plan, taking the monthly price down to only $4.87/mo.

Reaching Kodi v18 Alpha

Developing a piece of software as mature and feature-rich as Kodi is no small undertaking. Before we jump into the new features, let’s take a quick moment to appreciate just how much effort has gone into this alpha release.

Code Cleaning

Managing Kodi’s open-source code repository is practically a full time job. The software can do just about anything, including stream content over your home network, interface with websites to download videos, automatically find and install subtitle viewers, and much, much more. How do you tidy something like that up for a new release? One line at a time, that’s how.

The Kodi team provided a quick rundown of exactly how much code and how many files were changed for the alpha release. Even if you don’t know your Python from C++, these numbers are impressive.

  • More than 350,000 lines of code were removed.
  • More than 397,000 lines of code were added.
  • More than 6,140 chunks of code were changed.
  • More than 1,911 pull-requests were made.
  • More than 7,776 files were altered.
  • Over 35 open-source developers contributed to the update.

Alpha vs Stable

Even though a ton of work went into getting Kodi v18 Leia to its first alpha version, there’s still plenty left to do. Alpha versions of software are notable for being the first public-ready releases. They have most of the main features in place and are considered relatively stable, but problems can still crop up. Downloading an alpha version means you’re essentially taking part in the testing process leading up to the final release.

Full Release Date

The Kodi team doesn’t have a set timeline for the full official release of v18 Leia. On the alpha release announcement they confirmed it would be some time this year, as there’s still room left for improvements. More alpha rollouts are planned for the nearer future, though, which means you won’t have to wait for the big release to get your hands on v18.

What’s New in Kodi v18 Leia Alpha

Kodi v18 Leia Alpha is Released 3 - Kodi robot

Ready to jump in? The v18 alpha is ready to download for a variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. There’s a lot to love even in this early stage of development, including all the extras listed below.

Stability and Usability Improvements

While Kodi doesn’t have a reputation for being unstable, per se, users aren’t surprised when the software locks up or crashes entirely. A lot of this has to do with third party add-ons interacting with the main program. You can place the blame on outside developers, or you can do like the Kodi dev team did and set out to improve overall stability.

Kodi v18 Leia’s biggest new feature is a wealth of usability tweaks and stability overhauls. Old, poorly coded sections have been ripped out and replaced, strengthening the foundation to make glitches far less common than before. The team put a lot of effort into making sure all the components work well in concert. It’s not the most exciting of features, but in practice, it’s amazing.

Music Library Improvements

Most people think of Kodi as a video and live TV streaming app. The software handles music, too, and with the v18 release, it’s getting a lot better at organization.

One of the things Kodi does for music lovers is scan your device for audio and organize it by a set structure. Kodi looks for genre tags, artist names, albums, and so on, then presents everything in a clean, easy to browse format, even if your files are just dumped at random in a single folder.

With v18’s improvements, Kodi now scans music files more methodically. It also looks at tags instead of just file names, allowing you to take organization to an entirely new level.

Better Live TV Streams

One of Kodi’s most-loved features is the ability to stream live TV to any device. The majority of users rely on third party add-ons to get this done. Kodi supports live streams out of the box, however, and with v18 it’s getting a lot more stable.

To stream or record live TV from Kodi you’ll need access to a USB tuner or a network tuner like HDHomerun. These devices push cable or digital streams to your computer, at which point Kodi can grab the feed and decode it for you. The upgrades in v18 Leia add a lot of stability to the process, resulting in fewer crashes and a more reliable overall streaming experience.

Full PVR setup guides are available on the Kodi wiki.

Support for Games

Kodi v18 Leia Alpha is Released 4 - Games on Kodi

One of the biggest extras to Kodi v18 is the addition of a RetroPlayer core. This allows users to access games directly in Kodi’s interface, including classic game emulation and open-source projects. Kodi already supports a wide variety of client add-ons, but with RetroPlayer in the mix, the doors are thrown wide open for new and stable games added via third party extensions.

To assist in your gaming endeavors, Kodi v18 includes the following interface and core code improvements:

  • Games window and Game OSD (On-Screen-Display) entries added to the GUI.
  • Support for basic gameplay persistence (auto-save & auto-load).
  • Gaming and game configuration interface for Game settings.
  • Support for Keyboard players via Joystick Emulation.

Video Player Improvements

Kodi is a media center at its core. For most people, this means watching movies or binging on entire TV series. Kodi’s video player is able to handle just about any type of file format you throw at it without error. As codecs evolve over the years, though, Kodi has to make changes to keep up with denser formats and higher quality files. The new player upgrades in v18 Leia take that into account, and more.

The original player on Kodi was designed with the old Xbox video standards in mind. Since the software runs on a wide variety of devices now, it’s time to do an overhaul. The team looked towards the future of video streaming and split Kodi’s code into a few different sections, making it faster and easier to update as time goes by. They also improved how Kodi handles CPU/GPU priorities to eliminate stuttering audio and video, especially in higher quality content.

Other video playback improvements in v18 include more efficient usage of CPU resources and preliminary support for HDR and new video codecs when they become available. In other words, high resolution 4k and 8k videos shouldn’t be a problem with Kodi v18.

DRM (Digital Rights Management)

DRM is usually a dirty word in the Kodi community. In this case, though, it isn’t. DRM-protected content includes videos and software that’s locked into a particular ecosystem. If you download a movie on iTunes, for example, DRM protection prevents you from playing it on VLC or Kodi. It’s frustrating, but it’s a necessary evil for digital distribution.

Kodi v18 Leia doesn’t break DRM locks or anything like that. Instead, it adds support for content protected by encryption by default. This includes anything you might purchase or download without realizing DRM is in place. You don’t have to mutter curses under your breath and use some other software to stream. Now you can just let Kodi do its thing.

Input Manager

Kodi v18 Leia adds support for playing games directly from the main interface. The main use for this is running emulators to access retro content. Nobody wants to play Mario Bros. with a touch screen or TV box remote, though, so the Kodi team made sure to include input managers for a wider variety of control devices, including gamepads and remotes.

Platform-Specific Improvements in Kodi v18

Kodi v18 Leia Alpha is Released 5 - Kodi download platforms

In addition to the improvements listed above, the Kodi team has rolled out some updates for different platforms, adding features and making it more stable for Windows, Android, Linux, and other devices.

Windows Improvements

Installing Kodi from the Windows Store is much more reliable with v18. Updates can now be sent automatically, something the standalone download doesn’t support. In addition, Kodi is now available as a native 64-bit application for Windows users, which should offer a faster interface and more reliable experience.

A side benefit of focusing on Windows development is that Kodi can finally run on Xbox One. This is a fun milestone for the team, as Kodi originated back in the early 2000s as an Xbox-exclusive media manager. It eventually split off into its own program, Xbox went in its own direction, and Kodi lost compatibility. Now that Windows apps can run natively on Xbox One, Kodi is returning to its home 15 years after leaving.

Android Improvements

Kodi’s Android port is more important than you might think. Android powers a wide variety of set top TV boxes, including Fire TV and Fire Sticks. Having a fast, lightweight, and stable app for Android means getting Kodi to a massive number of new devices with very little effort. That’s getting a little easier with the v18 improvements made to Kodi.

The development team ripped out a lot of code and built portions of the Android release from scratch. Low-powered devices were a priority, which helped eliminate bloat and navigation lag. Native Android APIs were used to supplement Kodi’s own functions to an extent, as well.

A nice out-of-the-box feature with v18 on Android is the ability to use Google Assistant. Yes, you can now talk to Kodi instead of tapping the screen or reaching for a remote. Android TV Oreo users will even get access to a new Channels interface that shows off specific content from the Kodi app.

Linux Improvements

One of the perennial struggles the Kodi team deals with in regards to Linux devices is display drivers. Every distro uses something slightly different, meaning Kodi has to support a massive variety of drivers just to get videos to show up on screen.

To reduce the maintenance issues involved with this, the development team switched to generic managers that support more Linux drivers. This means more people will have faster access to Kodi streams on Linux devices without having to set things up manually.

How to Download Kodi Leia Alpha

Kodi v18 Leia Alpha is Released 6 Kodi Leia download page

Heard enough? Ready to try out the alpha version of Kodi v18 Leia? Installation is quick and easy, just follow the steps below and start streaming!

Before Downloading

Since v18 is an alpha release, you’ll probably want to install it separately from your main Kodi build. This ensures you won’t lose any data if v18 crashes or accidentally corrupts your files. Better still, make a backup of your existing installation before trying the new release. For more information about how to prepare your system to install a new version of Kodi, check out our guide on updating Kodi to a new release.

Downloading Kodi v18 Alpha

Downloading the Leia alpha release is just like downloading any other version of Kodi. Start by heading to Kodi.tv and clicking on the blue Download button in the corner of the screen. Next, scroll to the platform icons and click the operating system you’re currently using.

In the window that pops open, click the top tabs to switch over to Development Builds. You should see a wall of text that discusses Kodi v18 “Leia” nightly builds. Click the correct install button below to download the latest alpha build, then install it to your system just like you would any other program.

Conclusion

Kodi v18’s alpha release is big news for media streaming fans. Not only does it add a lot of stability and usability improvements, but it also sneaks in a few fantastic features that should give you more excuses to keep using the software in the future. Games, live TV, 4k and 8k video, and better support for Android devices. Kodi v18 Leia has it all!

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