Plex is looking to become your first stop for video streaming with its latest trick: a universal search and discovery tool that includes not just your subscribed streaming services, but also your personal and shared Plex libraries.
Available now as an open beta, Plex’s new universal search tool lets you scour “hundreds” of streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, and Peacock, as well as Plex’s own treasure trove of free-with-ads movies and TV shows. If you find a video you like, just tap or click a button to watch it on one of your linked streaming services, or you can add the title to Plex’s new universal watchlist.
Besides offering universal search across a wide range of streaming services, Plex also covers unreleased movies, meaning the forthcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness might pop up in your universal search results. Just as you could with a streaming title, you can click an upcoming movie to watch its trailer or add it to your watchlist, and you can also find out when it’s coming to theaters or landing online.
Plex isn’t first to the universal search party, of course. JustWatch and ReelGood are a couple of popular competitors, while Apple TV, Google TV, and Roku have their own universal search tools (although neither Apple nor Google play nice with Netflix).
What makes Plex’s universal search stand out from the pack is that it includes results not only from your linked streaming services, but also your own Plex media library, plus any shared Plex libraries you have access to. That’s huge for devoted Plex users who share large media libraries of ever-changing content. (Plex is careful to note that its universal search tool will “not ever” reveal the contents of personal Plex libraries to outside parties.)
Alongside its new universal search tool, Plex is also unveiling a Discover tab that lets you peruse top and trending titles on your various services.
Plex’s universal search capabilities are available now across all supported Plex platforms, including web, iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV+, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and various smart TVs and game consoles.
Notably, universal search won’t require a $5-a-month Plex Pass, a subscription add-on that includes features such as DVR functionality, media downloads, a server dashboard, and the music-centric Plexamp mobile app.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.