Powerful VLC media player lands on Chromebooks

The browser-based operating system gets top-notch local media playback.


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VLC, one of the best free programs for local media playback, now runs on Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. Users can download it now from the Chrome Web Store.

The app works with all video and audio files supported by other versions of VLC, including MKV, DVD ISO files, and FLAC. It can stream media files from local or Internet sources, and it supports subtitles, playlists, accelerated playback, and hardware-accelerated decoding. It also includes an audio equalizer.

In a blog post, VideoLAN president Jean-Baptiste Kempf revealed that the program is essentially a port of VLC’s Android version, using the App Runtime for Chrome tools that Google released in beta earlier this year. As Kempf explains, building a native Chrome app in JavaScript would have been extremely time-consuming; the Android port allowed the group to reuse about 95 percent of its code.

This is notable because App Runtime adoption hasn’t been widespread among developers. Aside from VLC, we’ve only seen a handful of notable Android-to-Chrome ports, including Vine, Evernote, and CloudMagic. Officially, Google doesn’t offer a way to port these apps to Chrome for Windows or Mac, so most developers are better off writing native Chrome apps or sticking with desktop websites. (There are ways for users to port Android apps to all platforms on their own, but they’re a bit of a hassle.)

VLC was actually demoed on Chrome OS way back in March, and it’s unclear why the app took another nine months to surface. In any case, VLC warns that there may be some bugs in this initial release, and that it has only tested the program on two laptops, and not on desktop devices like the new Asus Chromebit.

Why this matters: With recent rumors of a Chrome OS-Android merger coming next year, perhaps Android Runtime will get a chance to play a more crucial role. For now, at least Chromebook users have a powerful solution for playing all kinds of media files. Maybe this will finally crush the tired notion that Chrome OS requires an Internet connection to be useful.

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