XBMC 11.0 ‘Eden’ officially launches

If you haven’t heard of XBMC, it’s probably because you haven’t built a home theater PC before. XBMC is an essential framework to several HTPC programs, including most notably Boxee, DVDFab Media Player, and Plex. Not only that, but the software is impressive in its own right, offering an open-source solution to many of the tasks you might find suited to an Apple TV or Roku set-top box.

Basic features include add-on support for services like Pandora, Netflix, and Flickr, scraping of metadata from IMDB, vast codec support for all types of video and audio files, and user-customized skinning. This latest revision adds several key features that bring XBMC back to parity with competitors, even cribbing features like AirPlay support from the Apple TV. It also introduces XBMCbuntu, a free OS that launches straight into XBMC and is based on the Lubuntu variant of Ubuntu (which also ensures basic Linux app support like web browsing through Chromium and official/automatic Flash updates).

If you have last year’s PC lying around doing nothing, it might be worth hooking up to your HDTV with a fresh copy of ‘Eden’ in tow. With the slick updated interface and solid underpinnings to keep you busy, it may stave off an Apple TV, Roku, or Boxee Box purchase.

Source: XBMC (changelog)

iCloud enters beta, pricing details emerge as television is included

Yesterday was a big day for Apple’s forthcoming iCould service. Details emerged regarding premium tier pricing and a group of initial beta testers now have access to the web-based offering of the service.

The new web apps are getting a fair amount of praise from those who are lucky enough have access to them. Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Find My iPhone and iWork are the 5 currently available options after logging into the service. The apps with desktop counterpart appear to work and act in very familiar ways to their full-fledged siblings.

MacRumors managed to dig up a video showing the the iCloud web experience in action:

iCloud pricing tiers

Apple has also revealed that in addition to the free service, there will be additional paid tiers for the iCloud service. 5GB of storage is included for free with every account, but for those that require more, the pricing is as follows:

  • 10GB additional storage, $20/year
  • 20GB additional storage, $40/year
  • 50GB additional storage, $100/year
It is important to note that any iTunes purchases and photos will not count towards your storage allotment on iCloud, so 5GB will be enough for most.

With the latest Apple TV firmware rollout, iCloud services have been introduced to Apple’s set-top box and brought TV shows into the mix. Redownloading of previously purchased shows is now available through the “Purchased” tab in both the iTunes desktop app and iTunes iOS app on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. This feature essentially makes the difference between the video collection on your computer and purchase history through iTunes a little more indistinguishable.

Beyond that, the Apple TV now allows for buying and viewing of television shows baked directly into the experience, something that was only available in the past through the iTunes desktop application via home sharing. John Gruber has indicated that this seems to be rolling out on a series by series basis, so hold out hope if there are any holes in your catalog that prevent viewing on the ATV.

The public launch for iCloud is slated for sometime this Fall and is likely to coincide with the release of iOS 5 and the next iPhone.

[Additional reporting by Jonathan Downin]

Source: MacRumors9to5Mac - Daring Fireball