Have you heard folks talking about this "Kodi" thing, and you're wondering what it's all about? Here's a quick beginner's guide.
Kodi is a favorite among cord cutters and digital media fanatics, and it has a long history. Born from what was once called Xbox Media Center (XBMC), the platform owes its roots to Microsoft's very first games console.
Times change and Kodi has grown a lot since then. It's open source and available on a whole range of devices in different forms. Officially, you can't install it on the iPhone, iPad or Apple TV through the App Store, but there are ways and means. You can, however, install it easily on a Mac.
Here's what you need to know.
What is Kodi?
Kodi is an open-source media center app that's been continually developed for more than a decade. It's one of the most complete media centers you'll find anywhere, allowing you to consolidate all your media — videos, music and photos — in one place, with a customizable interface.
There's also a huge library of third-party add-ons available within Kodi — some legal, some ... less so — which provide access to a range of streaming services. Kodi is widely available, with builds available for nearly all operating systems and devices.
One of Kodi's biggest strengths is how easy it is to use. Sure, there's a ton of things you can do with it and a range of customizations you can make, but the base service is simple to set up and use. With version 17, Krypton, the new stock skin adds a touch of style and an easy-to-navigate user interface for all screen sizes.
Installing Kodi is as easy as installing any other non-Mac App Store program on your Mac desktop or laptop. Simply go to the official Kodi downloads page, select MacOS and download the release installer.
If you're feeling brave, you can grab the latest nightly builds for the current version, or even jump on the development builds of the next release. At this point in time that relates to version 18, Leia, due for wider release later in 2018.
How to install Kodi on a first-generation Apple TV
One of the wonderful things about Kodi is that it's been customized and forked by many great developers that manage to get it onto much less powerful hardware. One such example is OSMC, one of the nicest Kodi builds out there, and you can get it up and running on that old first-gen Apple TV you have stuffed inside a closet.
All you need is a USB stick, an ethernet cable and about half an hour and you've got yourself a fresh Kodi install that breathes life into your old hardware.
Can you use Kodi on iPhone, iPad or the current Apple TV?
Yes you can, and it doesn't have to involve jailbreak, either. That is a route you can go down, and in that case Kodi will let you download the files you need directly from its website to get cracking.
The process for installing to a non-jailbroken device involves a Mac, XCode, an iOS App Signer and a developer account. It's not exactly the easiest thing to get up and running, but it's possible to achieve and doesn't leave you needing to hack your device.
The video above from the developer of the iOS App Signer gives a quick overview of the process.
When you first set up Kodi it will be completely empty. You have to add sources of media, and there are a bunch of legal add-ons available right out of the box in the official Kodi repository. These include YouTube, Twitch and OneDrive, as well as some services provided by cable TV networks, news channels and the Smithsonian Museum. It's not limited to video, either, so you can also pull in music and photos to your Kodi setup.
Kodi also makes it incredibly easy to integrate live over-the-air TV channels. If you're using something like an HDHomeRun then you'll be able to install a simple PVR (personal video recorder) add-on that will integrate the output into the Kodi interface.
It's also worth getting a remote app for your phone, if you don't want to use a keyboard and mouse or you don't have a suitable hardware remote. Something like the OSMC Remote works well, as does a number of third-party apps for iPhone and iPad, such as Armchair Remote.
So that's how you get started with Kodi. It's a simple process and doesn't require that you set up an account or hand over any of personal information. You just download it, open it, and start making it your own.
Do you have any questions about what Kodi is and how you use it? Put them in the comments and we'll help you out.