Plex released two big updates today: the latest version of Plex for iOS adds an automatic media synchronisation feature for offline playback, and the new version of Plex Media Server gives all users access to their web player.
One of the primary disadvantages of streaming apps like Air Video and StreamToMe is that you can’t just sync any video you want in advance to play back when you’re offline and can’t connect to your server. The new Plex app works like this: you pick a TV episode, an entire series, a movie, or whatever else you want to sync to your device, go to that item’s information page, and click a little download icon to tell Plex you want to sync it. Plex will confirm the level of quality you prefer and then will use your home serve to convert the file so that it’s compatible with your device. When finished, Plex will sync that file, and any other converted files, so that they’re available to play offline when you need them. It’s incredibly easy to use and works effortlessly. The only downside is that Plex prefers to stream when you do have an internet connection rather than use the synchronised file on your device. We hope this behaviour will change in the final version.
Plex Sync also takes care to ensure you don’t run out of space on your device by allowing you to choose a maximum storage allotment. On my iPhone, the default was 10GB, but a little slider can adjust that number easily. In addition to its new synchronisation abilities, this latest version of Plex also offers several user interface enhancements that make the app easier to use and even better to look at. While the update currently requires a PlexPass, which provides Plex users early access to new features like sync, it’s well worth the price of admission if you’re constantly frustrated by the process of converting and moving media.
Lastly, for you non-PlexPass members, you can now use Plex’s video-streaming web interface, previously a PlexPass-only feature. Just grab the new version of Plex Media Server to get started.
Plex for iOS is a $5.49 download, and Plex Media Server is free on all platforms.