If you've been hitting VLC's nightly builds, then most of the new features of v3.0.0 will be old news. For everyone else, the major update -- the first since 2.0.0 came out in 2012 -- adds loads of goodness, including native Chromecast support, hardware HEVC decoding and advanced network browsing. While VLC's website hasn't been updated, there's no need to wait: you can grab the official release right now.
Just want to the binaries for your operating system of choice? Check out VLC's FTP server. Windows users in particular will be interested in the 64-bit build, which can be downloaded from here. Get
vlc-3.0.0-win64.exe if you're not sure.
What's so good about 3.0.0? Other than native support for Google's Chromecast, the update has loads of performance and quality-of-life improvements.
Here are some cherry-picked changes:
- Support network browsing for distant filesystems (SMB, FTP, SFTP, NFS...) and rewrite the parsing of the media files and inputs
- Autodetect external audio tracks (ac3, m4a, aac, dts...) similar to subtitles
- Support HDMI passthrough for Audio HD codecs, like E-AC3, TrueHD or DTS-HD
- Support for 12bits codec and extended colorspaces (HDR)
- Support output renderers, like ChromeCast
- Support for 360 video and audio, including viewpoint modification
- Support for ambisonic audio and more than 8 audio channels
- Support subtitles size live adjustments
- Support HEVC hardware decoding on Windows, using DxVA2 and D3D11
- Support hardware decoding using Direct3D11, including GPU-zerocopy mode, and hardware filtering, for deinterlace and adjust
- Support MPEG-2, VC1/WMV3 on Android using MediaCodec
- Support 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 chroma samplings with VDPAU hw acceleration
- Support VP9 and WMV3 decoding using OMX and performance improvements
- New hardware accelerated decoder for OS X and and iOS based on Video Toolbox supporting H.263, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, H.265/HEVC, MPEG-4 Part 2, and DV
It's better, basically. A lot better.
That said, users on older platforms should be aware that 3.x will be the last version to support the following:
- Windows XP, Vista, and the servers equivalent of those Windows versions
- macOS 10.7, 10.8 & 10.9, iOS 7 & 8
- Android 2.x, 3.x, 4.0.x & 4.1.x
If you're a VLC fan running one of the above, you should be alright for the next five or so years, going by the gap between 2.0.0 and 3.0.0.