The internet’s most reliable media player is getting its fourth major update.
In terms of quality, there are few consumer media players more flexible than VLC. A staple among PC users since 2001, the orange traffic cone icon has become a legendary piece of software, serving as a beacon of hope for those struggling to find a player compatible with whatever bizarre file type they ripped off of LimeWire.
This includes everything from FLV, ACC, and DivX, to FLAC, Theora, Xvid, and a slew of other formats I don’t even recognize.
In November of 2016, VideoLan broadened its already stellar compatibility lineup with support for 360-degree content, including panorama, video, and audio. Now, with Update 4.0 on the horizon — the first major release since their ‘Vetinari’ 3.0 Update back in February of last year — the team is teasing a fresh new user interface, its first media library browser, and upgrades to all their video output functions, just to name a few.
Even more exciting, however, is the plan to finally add support for major VR headsets, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PSVR, R-E, and Windows Mixed Reality lineup, via OpenHMD; a welcomed addition to the desktop software, which currently involves the dreaded click-and-drag function when dealing with 360-degree content.
While speaking at FOSDEM 2019 in Belgium earlier this week, Jean Baptiste Kempf, President and Lead Developer of VIdeoLan, spoke in-depth regarding VLC 4.0. Codenamed ‘Otto Chriek,’ the update will supposedly feature a completely redone user interface, a dedicated media library, and support for 3D content up to Ambisonics 3rd order, accessible via Nvidia or a standard HDMI.
Other eventual additions will include GNOME and KDE adaptations, integration with Wayland and X11, as well as both client and server-side support. As a result of these upgrades, system requirements will be raised on macOS, iOS, and Android platforms; meanwhile, support for Windows XP and Vista will be dropped entirely.
There’s no specific date attached to 4.0 as of yet, but VideoLan referred to these improvements as their ‘2019 Promises,’ so hopefully we’ll be seeing these welcomed additions sooner than later.
Whether it’s the painful click-and-drag control of the desktop software, or clumsily panning and rotating a phone, I think we can all agree that a VR headset is the preferred method of viewing 360-degree content. Adding support for major HMD’s will no doubt increase the value in VLC media player as a 360-degree content viewer. With room-scale VR films rising in popularity, it’ll be interesting to see if VLC, “King of Compatibility,” will include support for these passive experiences.