VLC is one of the most popular media players around. It works on most platforms and can handle almost any type of file. It's damn near perfect, but you could be getting even more out of VLC by using experimental nightly builds instead of the official version.
What's a VLC Nightly Build?
VideoLAN, the volunteer-based organisation that runs VLC, offers access to test versions of the software called Nightly Builds. These are generated on a regular basis and they're available for Windows, macOS, iOS, tvOS, Ubuntu, Linux and Android. They're a way to try out new ideas with a smaller test group before pushing them to the main version of VLC.
The downside is that VLC nightly builds can be unstable or sometimes downright unusable. VideoLAN doesn't offer any support for these test versions either. So if something goes wrong, it's up to you to figure it out or reinstall the official build. There are some perks, however, that make it worth the risk.
What's So Great About VLC Nightly Builds?
Like we said, VideoLAN uses these nightly builds to test out new features. That means you can try out the latest updates to VLC before everyone else. Earlier this year, the group added Chromecast support, but that's just the latest in a long list of additions.
VideoLAN also used a nightly build to test out new extension capabilities. This made it possible to add special scripts to VLC that pull information from sites like IMDB or Last.fm related to the movie you're watching or the music you're listening to.
How to Get Started
To check out VLC's test builds for yourself, head to VideoLAN's nightlies page and pick your operating system from the list of options. That will bring you to an OS-specific page with a list of test builds. Look for the most recent release (it may be labelled "last" depending on the platform you chose) and click on it.
From there you can download the latest VLC nightly build and install it, though you may have to change your security settings to get it running, depending on your operating system. Once you do you should be able to start testing the latest version of VLC -- assuming it's stable enough to work.