Kodi 21 "Omega" Beta 1 represents a major milestone in the development of the next generation of the popular open source media center software. As a passionate Kodi user and writer, I wanted to provide some deeper insights into this release.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- What‘s Changed Under the Hood in Kodi 21
- Improvements for Audio, Video, and Images
- Enhanced Hardware Support and Performance
- Streamlining the User Experience
- Download Links and Steps to Install
- What to Expect as Stable Release Nears
I‘ll be drawing on my own experience using Kodi for years as well as feedback from other testers and developers. Let‘s take a more in-depth look at what‘s new!
Kodi 21 Development: A Major Upgrade
While Kodi 21 Beta 1 represents an incremental update over Kodi 20, under the hood this is a major overhaul. The Kodi team has been hard at work over the past 2 years modernizing the codebase and foundations.
Some highlights of the "tech debt" improvements:
- Modern C++17 compiled on newer toolchains
- Improved cross-platform build system using CMake
- Hundreds of code cleanups, refactors, and optimizations
- Enhancements to the addon development framework
These changes don‘t directly affect the user experience. But they enable Kodi to add new features faster while maintaining high performance and stability into the future.
The shift to C++17 also allows some clever new idioms and practices. One example is
std::string_view which reduces copying compared to normal
There are also major version bumps for foundational libraries like Boost and Python 3.
While invisible to end users, these improvements result in a leaner and meaner media center. Kodi is prepped to take advantage of new hardware capabilities while extending its 15+ year reign!
What‘s New for Audio Playback and Processing?
Audio is an often overlooked component of the media experience. Kodi 21 brings some key upgrades in this department:
- Gapless playback – Music transitions smoothly without gaps or glitches
- DSP improvements – Better downmixing, upmixing, sample rate changes
- Bluetooth audio – Supported on all platforms for wireless streaming
- Atmos pass-through – Uncompressed Atmos over HDMI on capable devices
These enhancements provide audiophile-grade playback. Your tunes will rock!
Kodi can now stream music wirelessly over Bluetooth to speakers and headphones. Plus Atmos home theater buffs can enable Dolby Atmos pass-through for object-based surround on media like Blu-ray rips.
Under the hood, the audio engine got tons of tuning. Hardware downmixing and upmixing utilizes high-quality sample rate conversion and DSP algorithms.
The result is pristine dynamic sound perfectly tuned to your system. Kodi 21 brings the digital audio experience to the next level!
Intelligent Upscaling and Improved Video Playback
With Kodi 21, your movies and shows have never looked better on screen.
Some standout improvements:
- Upscaling – Nvidia DLSS and AMD FSR integration
- Color management – Dynamic tone mapping and HDR
- Hardware decoding – AV1, HEVC, 10-bit HDR, and 4K60
- Deinterlacing – Higher quality yadif algorithm
Let‘s break these down…
DLSS and FSR leverage AI to upscale lower resolution video to crisp 4K or even 8K! This gives you near-native quality while saving bandwidth and processing power.
Tone mapping adjusts colors dynamically based on the display capabilities. This unlocks the full vivid spectrum on HDR-capable TVs.
Hardware decoding via GPU also steps up. AV1 flies even at 4K on new Intel, AMD, and Nvidia chipsets. HEVC 10-bit 4:4:4 enjoys similar smooth playback.
And higher fidelity deinterlacing cleans up those pesky interlaced DVDs and cable channels using advanced computer vision techniques.
Kodi 21 transforms your home cinema into a media powerhouse!
Streamlined User Experience and Design Updates
While Kodi already provides a slick out-of-the-box experience, v21 refines things further:
- Settings overhaul – Options reorganized logically
- Revamped menus and windows – Flatter, modern look
- Animations and transitions – Smoother navigation
- Retina/HiDPI support – Crisp text and imagery on high resolution displays
Estuary, the default skin, enjoys a facelift. Menus and settings are decluttered and cleaned up. Navigating your media libraries feels snappier.
Support for ultra high resolution retina displays sharpens the whole interface. Icons and text look great on 4K screens.
Small touches like new animations and transitions increase perceived performance. Overall, the Kodi user experience feels faster and more streamlined.
Expanding Hardware and Platform Support
A huge area of improvement in Kodi 21 is enhanced support for the latest hardware and platforms:
- Apple M1 silicon support (experimental)
- Raspberry Pi 4 and 5 optimizations
- Android 12L adaptions
- Windows 11 compatiblity
- Premium codecs on Xbox Series X|S
The Apple M1 port is still early but shows promise. Benchmarks reveal solid performance leveraging the efficiency cores for video decoding.
Music on a Raspberry Pi sounds better than ever with broader codec support. The Leanback launcher for Android TV gets an overhaul. And next-gen Xbox consoles can pump lossless audio to your A/V receiver.
From microdevices to consoles, your cutting edge hardware can power Kodi.
Download and Install Kodi 21 Beta on Your Devices
Want to take Kodi 21 for a spin? You can install the Beta 1 test build on any supported device:
- Download the Windows 64-bit installer.
- Run the EXE and follow prompts to install Kodi. Choose portable mode if desired.
- Download the Android APK.
- On your device, allow install from unknown sources.
- Open the APK to trigger the install prompts.
- Download the macOS package.
- Mount the DMG, then drag Kodi to your Apps folder.
- Launch Kodi from the Apps folder or Dock.
See the nightly builds page for other platforms like Linux, iOS, Raspberry Pi, and more.
During setup, you‘ll likely want to reset the interface to defaults. And know that addons may exhibit issues until updated for Kodi 21.
Kodi 21 Stable Release Just Around the Corner
While quite usable now, Kodi 21 still has a few more months left in development before it will be ready for an official stable debut.
The team is fixing bugs, tweaking features, and polishing performance with each new nightly build. We can expect a Beta 2 release soon that should crush many of the existing crashes and rough edges.
From there, it‘s on to release candidate builds for final testing. If all goes smoothly, my prediction is Kodi 21.0 stable drops in December 2023 or early 2024.
Of course, the devs will take whatever time is needed to meet their high standards. But the light at the end of the tunnel nears!
For now, media center power users can enjoy a sneak peek by testing Beta 1. And Kodi newcomers are still best served by the current stable release.
Exciting times lie ahead. Kodi 21 cements its place as the ultimate open source media hub for all platforms and users. Let me know if you have any questions!