Plex’s new Plex Home features beef up media management in your house
By Ian Paul
TechHiveNov 21, 2014 7:32 am PST
Home media streaming platform Plex is adding some new features for paid subscribers as well as a few freebies that will make it easier to share content and apps, and manage multiple users.
Called Plex Home, the new features are mostly for Plex Pass subscribers, the company’s $5 per month service that gives you access to features like Xbox One integration and cloud sync.
The impact on you at home: Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu may be the big trend these days, but many of us still have sizable libraries of digital content that is often sitting in silos of one or two PCs. Apps like Plex make it easier to share this content across your home and devices, but it wasn’t an ideal solution for homes with multiple users—until now.
Multiuser goes free
We’ll get to the biggest changes for paid users in a second, but if you’re a not a Pass subscriber you get a few nice features for free, too. Plex said multiuser profiles are now free for all users. That means everyone in your home can get separate profiles, complete with their own viewing histories.
Plex’s Now Playing feature is also now free for all users, allowing you to see who is viewing what content at any given time. Finally, Plex moved all server management tools inside the web app. Plex says this will allow you to “easily specify the exact content ratings accessible by all your friends and family.”
Plex is also adding some niceties for Plex Pass subscribers. For starters, Plex has improved its sharing controls to allow you to decide what gets shared—and with whom—at the file level using labels.
To make it easier to add new users, Plex Home also includes a new feature called managed users. These are password-less user accounts that don’t even require a unique username. Unlike regular accounts, managed users are far more restricted and aren’t allowed to have a viewing queue, viewing recommendations, or friends outside your home’s network. Managed users also can’t share media with users outside your home.
Plex has also sped up user switching for Plex Home users by allowing you to switch between users without having to sign out and sign back in again. Each regular account can also add PIN protection to keep nosy family members from prying into their libraries.
Finally, Plex Home subscribers will eventually be able to share Plex app access with all members of their household. Currently, if a Plex app is tied to your user profile, other profiles can’t use the app. Plex says its goal is to update its apps to work with multiple users. For now, however, only the Roku app will allow everyone at home to use it.
These aren’t the most exciting additions to the Plex experience, but they are the kind of fundamental changes that should make using Plex much nicer.