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Plex Adds Podcasts, Revamps Mobile Apps

Media center app Plex is venturing into podcasting: Plex added podcasts to its mobile, Roku and web apps Wednesday, allowing users to subscribe to their favorite podcasts and listen to them across multiple devices. With the addition of podcasts, Plex also revamped its mobile apps to make it easier to consume content from a number of different sources.

Plex’s new podcast feature comes with a catalog of some of the most popular podcasts, allowing users to subscribe to their favorites. The app keeps track of any podcast listening, making it possible to start a podcast on your phone on the go, and then continue it at the right spot on your Roku at home.

Users can also subscribe to new podcasts by adding a show’s feed address if it isn’t part of Plex’s catalog yet. The app  suggests related podcasts, and offers some podcast-specific functionality known from other podcast apps, including the ability to change the playback speed. Podcasts on Plex are available at no charge to all users, regardless of whether the pay for the company’s Plex pass premium subscription or not.

plex podcasts
CREDIT: Plex / Screenshot: Janko Roettgers / Variety

Plex podcasts on the web.

However, podcasts on Plex are clearly a work in progress: Downloads of podcast aren’t supported yet, but are supposed to be added in the coming weeks, complete with controls over how many episodes of a show to keep. Casting podcasts to a Chromecast-compatible speaker also isn’t available at launch, but will be coming soon.

The addition of podcasts comes as Plex is looking to widen its appeal by adding new content sources.  Plex added DVR functionality for broadcast TV content in late 2016, and incorporated news reports from a variety of publishers last year.

The addition of news and podcasts has the potential to change how consumers use Plex: The app had long been focused on playing personal media collections stored on a single server, be it a PC running Plex’s software or a device like Nvidia’s Shield game console. This server-centric model doesn’t work as well once you add content from multiple sources.

That’s why on Wednesday, Plex also rolled out a refresh of its mobile apps, which now allow consumers to customize their Plex home page with content from multiple sources. This makes it possible to for example prioritize music on mobile, or easily access movies and TV shows from multiple servers. Similar customization options will come to the Plex web version and Plex’s TV apps soon, a spokesperson said this week.

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