Getting Kodi set up on Android might take some time initially, but it's worth it in the long run.
Kodi is a powerful open source media center, which is available across a multitude of operating systems, but its rise to prominence is mostly thanks to its Android version. This is due to the rise in popularity of Kodi boxes — essentially cheap Android TV boxes sold with the Kodi app pre-installed. This has garnered Kodi a lot of press and attention lately, because its open source add-on feature can be used for media piracy purposes.
But it's an unfair situation because the piracy add-ons are unofficial, unsupported, and the Kodi box industry is unwelcome, according to the Kodi developers. The base app is perfectly legal, and what you do get is one of the best experiences for organizing and streaming media onto any device — even your phone. Bring your own content like you would with Plex — or even link to your Plex server within Kodi if you've already got one set up.
It's entirely customizable, so let's walk you through the basic setup.
Kodi is optimized for Android
Previously, when you downloaded Kodi on your Android device, you would be required to go into the Appearance setting and swap over to a more touchscreen-friendly skin. With the latest update for Android, the developers have swapped over to a much more user-friendly skin by default, so you'll be able to just load it up and go.
Once you've loaded Kodi up, you'll find the navigation menu on the lefthand side with categories for Movies, TV Shows, Music, Pictures, Add-ons, and more.
Importing your media files
With Kodi, you can keep all your media organized and accessible in one place — from pictures and music to videos, sorted by movies and TV shows. It's quick and easy to import your media into Kodi and simply a matter of setting a source for the media from your phone's internal storage or a microSD card if your phone supports expandable storage.
- Tap the type of media you wish to add. We'll use Pictures for this example.
Tap Add pictures….
- Tap Browse.
- Find the folder containing the media you wish to add then tap OK.
Now when you tap the category from the main screen, you'll find your source available with all your photos, music, or videos organized. If you've ripped your favorite TV box sets onto your computer and transferred them to a microSD card, they will be organized by season within Kodi.
Diving into Add-ons
Beyond your own media, you can also install a variety of handy add-ons from the built-in add-on browser or by adding them from remote add-on repositories. For now, we'll look at what's available from right within Kodi.
When you tap the Add-ons menu from the main menu of Kodi, you may find that all your Android apps have been automatically linked and displayed within Kodi. While it's somewhat convenient to be able to jump right into another app from within Kodi, I've found it to be somewhat buggy and it's caused Kodi to crash on more than one occasion.
You want to get to the add-on menu with all the different add-on types listed along the left side of the screen. There you'll be able to tap the button to browse through the available add-ons.
You can find video add-ons for over 100 different TV channels' online streaming catalogues and media sharing websites such as YouTube and Reddit, along with many international options. To install an add-on and see what it has to offer, simply select it and tap Install.
Along with the add-ons found within the included Add-ons browser, you can go into the add-on settings and install from an online repository. Since those are often hosting add-ons that promote piracy, you're on your own if you choose to go that route.
The Chromecast workaround
Watching Kodi on a tablet or phone when you're on the go is alright, but the best part is the way you can switch over to your Chromecast-enabled TV when you get home. Kodi doesn't support Chromecast directly, but you can cast your phone's screen to the TV.
It's a pretty good workaround if you've got an older Android phone or tablet sitting around collecting dust. If it also happens to feature a microSD slot, it'll be that much easier to load it full of your favorite media. I used a secondary phone for my bedroom TV, which allowed me to cast my favorite shows to the Chromecast while keeping the full touch controls over everything right on hand.
It did take some tweaking, including going into the audio settings and adjusting the volume and audio offset, but once it was set up, it was pretty great. The updated layout that's been optimized for touchscreen controls only makes things easier to navigate
Of course, there's nothing stopping you from [adding Kodi to an NVIDIA Shield] or downloading Kodi for your PC or Mac and streaming your content that way from home. Simply put, Kodi gives you all the customization tools for Android to make it fit into TV setups around your home.
Let me know in the comments below!